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
Yield: 48 crescents
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
420 Calories
31g Fat
31g Carbs
9g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 420
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 31g 39%
Saturated Fat 12g 59%
Cholesterol 141mg 47%
Sodium 159mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 31g 11%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 18mg 90%
Calcium 50mg 4%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 199mg 4%
*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 (2 cups) unsalted butter, chilled

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 12 large egg yolks

  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested

For the Nut Filling:

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 pound walnuts, finely ground

  • Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

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 (reserve zest) 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 F. Line sheet pans with parchment paper. If you've made walnut-sized 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.