Cranberry Pecan Crescents (Low Carb and Gluten Free)


When I was a child, Christmas Dinner at my dad’s house was a very big deal. My father’s wife was very particular about her Christmas menu, and every detail was planned well in advance. As I loved to cook and bake, I was co-opted as something of a sous chef, with increasing responsibilities as I got older. One of the tasks I was charged with, once I had proved myself worthy, was making her wonderful pecan crescents. These were beautiful, tender shortbread crescents with chopped pecans and topped with a white icing. They were served on a platter replete with slices of fruitcake and other sweet delicacies, but they were without question the most popular item.

With this recipe, I wasn’t trying to find a low carb, gluten free cookie that could compare. Quite frankly, I think that is beyond the realm of possibility. But I came across a chocolate-dipped crescent cookie recently that put me in mind of those beloved cookies of old, and inspired me to create a low carb crescent of my own. In homage to the original, I decided to use pecan meal as my base ingredient so that, at the very least, I could call them pecan crescents. And I thought that some of the dried cranberries I had just made would be a nice accompaniment to the intensity of the pecans.

I waffled about whether or not to dip them in chocolate. That had originally been my intention but they looked so lovely as they were, sprinkled lightly with powdered erythtritol. I also contemplated creating some sort of white icing to top them with, to make them more reminiscent of the original pecan crescents. In the end, I buckled to the siren call of chocolate, especially since I had some leftover chocolate glaze from my mocha shortbread and all I had to do was heat it up and dip away.

The Results: Another low carb Christmas cookie success. I’m on a bit of a roll here! If you like pecans, you will love these cookies. The nuttiness is fairly intense, which I quite enjoy, and the cranberries add a little bit of colour and texture, as well tartness to offset the pecans. I tasted them without the chocolate and they were quite good, but they are even better with. Chocolate and pecans go so well together, I wonder why I hesitated at all.

This recipe would lend itself well to any nut meal as the base. Hazelnuts would be a wonderful choice. I made my own sugar free dried cranberries because I have had difficulty finding any unsweetened in local stores. I found the recipe here, and it’s not difficult but it is fairly time-consuming. I should perhaps invest in a food dehydrator, but if I ever come across unsweetened dried cranberries, I will be buying them in bulk!

Cranberry Pecan Crescents

2 cups pecans
1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup granulated erythritol
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
12 drops stevia extract
1-2 tbsp powdered erythritol, sifted (optional)

Chocolate Glaze:
1/2 tbsp coconut oil or butter
1.5oz unsweetened chocolate
1 tbsp powdered erythritol
1/4 tsp vanilla
4 drops stevia extract

Preheat oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment.

For the cookies, process pecans in food processor until they are fully ground and are just beginning to clump together.

Transfer pecans to a bowl and stir in cranberries, almond meal and erythritol until combined. Add egg, vanilla and stevia and mix vigorously until dough comes together into one ball or clump.

Roll dough between palms into 1-inch balls. Using your fingers, shape each ball into a crescent and place on prepared baking sheet. They won’t spread so you can put them fairly close together.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until edges are beginning to brown and cookies are firm. Cool on pan 10 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered erythritol, if using.

For the glaze, melt coconut oil or butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in cocoa powder and erythritol until no clumps remain. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and stevia extract. Let cool until slightly thickened.

Line another baking sheet with parchment. Dip one end of cooled cookies in chocolate glaze. Lay on baking sheet and let sit or chill in refrigerator until firm.

Makes approx. 24 cookies. Each cookie has 81 Calories; 8g Fat (80.1% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 9mg Cholesterol; 6mg Sodium

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  1. Erin @ EKat's Kitchen says

    Carolyn, these are beautiful! The recipe sounds top-notch and your presentation is wonderful! Thanks for sharing! :)

  2. Cookin' Canuck says

    Carolyn, these are absolutely gorgeous! What a wonderful combination of textures and flavors in these crescents.

  3. Sugar Free Low Carb says

    Your cookies always look fantastic. Keep the recipes coming! I also wish sugar-free dried cranberries were readily available. I think there is a big market for them.

  4. Sommer J says

    did you do this for me carolyn? you know i am incorporating A LOT of your recipes into my Christmas menu. I am tearing up here….hehe. I kid, but these cookies look sooo awesome!!! I love everything about them. How much granulated sugar should I use for this?

  5. Spicie Foodie says

    Carolyn, You just made me wiggle 😉 I love these type of cookies, they are so popular here in Czech Republic. But your recipe that just another level of heavenly cookies. Being a chocoholic I like the dipped ones. I have to have these cookies! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Marea Davis says

    Low carb and positively appetizing!?! I'll take ten please :] These look absolutely divine. Thank you for comment- especially because it led me to your wonderful blog!


  7. A Little Yumminess says

    I am having a cup of tea right now and it is raining and I am dreaming of one of these :) to go with my chai!

  8. Kimberly Peterson says

    These cookies look absolutely divine! Great job and yes, love that we're all starting to bake and cook "Christmassy" stuff now yippee!!

  9. Pretend Chef says

    Yet again another wonderful recipe I could make to send in a care package to my mom who is on a gluten free diet. These look so delicious. I know I wouldn't be able to trust myself alone with these babies!

  10. Evan @swEEts says

    I love all the gluten free treats! My boyfriend's father has celiacs so I'm always looking for good desserts. I can't wait to try these!

  11. The Mom Chef says

    I can't believe you were able to do it. As I was reading, I kept thinking there was no way, but those look wonderful. Thanks for continuing to provide us with alternatives to carb-loaded goodies.

  12. Winelady Cooks says

    Your photo is terrific and the cookies look absolutely delicious. I'll will definitely be adding this cookie recipe to my holiday baking list.

    Thanks for sharing,

  13. Carolyn says

    Hi all – I am so glad that this recipe was so well received. Because honestly, this is one of my favourites, I've been eating them daily and every time, I think how good they are. If you are wondering how to make them with sugar, just sub in 3/4 – 1 cup of granulated sugar for the erythritol and stevia. For the chocolate dip, use semi-sweet chocolate and skip any sweeteners.
    And to anonymous, who loves my blog…THANK YOU! That's the reason I keep doing this.

  14. Heather says

    Hi Carolyn,

    The use of almond meal reminds me of Danish Christmas cookies with marzipan inside (that I used to love but can no longer eat). Perhaps this is a good substitution? What is erythritol? Does the almond meal plus erythritol give it a marzipan-like substance? I would really like to try this.

    Nice photography too.

  15. Patty says

    These sound and look awesome! I love sweet decadent nutty chocolaty treats that don't give you a sugar rush. I love your creative delicious healthy baking styles. :)

  16. Stella says

    Just looking at these again. They are so pretty. Some workers came to my house yesterday to fix the water heater, and somehow the shorted the oven. Hopefully, the will get everything fixed today, so that I can try these for Christmas…!

  17. Maria says

    O M G! Salivating! One quick question. What is the end to the following sentence (the last sentence in your instructions): “Makes approx. 24 cookies. Each cookie has a total of 5g of carbs, but only” – it ends at ‘only.’ What is/are the net carbs? That’s so I know how many I can eat!

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