Balkan Kifle Walnut Crescent Cookies

Kifle or Kilfice od Oraha
Barbara Rolek
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Chilling Time: 12 hrs
Total: 13 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 24 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
324 Calories
29g Fat
14g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 324
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29g 37%
Saturated Fat 11g 56%
Cholesterol 78mg 26%
Sodium 76mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Protein 5g
Calcium 38mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This old, traditional recipe for walnut crescent cookies is common throughout the Balkans and throughout the world. Kifle are sometimes made with a yeast dough, sometimes a buttery dough, and sometimes with a butter-cream cheese dough (probably a concession to modern times). The basic dough can actually be filled with any combination of jams, fruit fillings, almond, hazelnuts or pecans. This recipe is an old recipe that was handed down to me for a non-yeasted dough.

Freeze leftover egg whites and save for leftover egg white recipes.


  • For the Dough:
  • 1 pound cold butter
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 12 large beaten egg yolks
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • For the Nut Filling:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 pound finely ground walnuts
  • Garnish: Confectioners' sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. To make the dough: In a large bowl, cut butter into flour as for pie dough. Add eggs and lemon juice and mix just until dough comes together. Don't overwork.

  2. Cut dough into eighths, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate the dough overnight.

  3. To make the filling: In a small saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Add zest and let simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Combine cooled syrup with ground nuts until thoroughly mixed.

  4. To shape and bake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line sheet pans with parchment paper. If you've made walnut-size balls of dough, working with a few at a time and leaving the rest refrigerated, roll thinly and place 1 teaspoon filling at one end and roll up, curving slightly. If you've cut the dough into eighths, work with one at a time, leaving the rest refrigerated, and roll into a thin circle. Cut into wedges as for a pie. Place 1 teaspoon filling at the widest end of each wedge and roll to the point.

  5. Place the crescents seam-side down on the prepared pans. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden. At this point, they can be rolled while still warm in confectioners' sugar or cooled completely on a wire rack and then dusted with confectioners' sugar. The choice is yours. The former method produces a slight glaze as the sugar melts on the hot cookies. In either case, cool completely before storing tightly covered. These cookies keep well.