Vanillekipferl or Austrian vanilla crescent cookies are tasty and delicate cookies that are part of the tradition of Nordic Christmas recipes, although these cookies in particular can be found in cafes and pastry shops in Austria throughout the year. Their particular crescent shape or horns give them an adorable and characteristic appearance.
Part of the Nordic tradition of the holiday season includes children leaving “presents” for St. Nicholas next to the wreath during advent season (which is a kind of nest of leaves and candles) and these cookies are the ones that children usually leave in Austria, while in Germany it is more common for them to go pfeffernüsse cookies.
These vanillekipferl cookies also called: Austrian vanilla crescent cookies, vanilla crescents, or vanilla moons are believed to be so named to remember the Turkish crescent moon and thus remember/celebrate the victories of the Hungarian army over them.
Pro tips when preparing these delicious cookies:
It is better that when you ground the almonds in a food processor (or the nut that we are going to use since it depends on the region if almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts are used) are not ground until they are a fine flour but there are small pieces that we can “differentiate” and will give them a delicious crispy touch and a delicious mouth texture, but this, on the other hand, will make the cookie dough more difficult to work, that is why it is essential to refrigerate it in a freezer bag, and if when shaping them it gets very sticky, we can solve it by refrigerating the dough a little longer.
Homemade vanilla sugar:
This ingredient is often used in German baking and can be hard to find. If you want to do your own vanilla-infused sugar you have to put a vanilla bean, cut along, and then in 3 pieces each into a mason jar with one cup of sugar, then close the jar and shake it. Let it aside in a dry place for at least 3 days (ideally for a week) shaking de jar once a day, so that the sugar is impregnated with the vanilla smell and flavor.
TIP: we can use our own vanilla sugar to give a special touch to our coffee.
Tip for preparing these crescent-shaped cookies:
- The butter must be at room temperature to make the dough easier to form. If you forget to take it out from the fridge, you could chop it into small pieces and let it over the counter for 15 minutes.
- Take out of the fridge a quarter of the dough, to work it and form the cookies, and let the rest of the dough in the fridge. So it will be easier to work with them.
- Don’t overcook your cookies, they must be slightly brown on the edges.
- If you are afraid to burn your fingers taking the warm cookies and putting in the icing sugar, you could do the sugar coating backward, and sprinkle with a sieve the icing sugar over the baked cookies. I prefer the other way because I cook so much that my fingers are insensitive to heat.
Storage and shelf life:
Once our cookies are cold you must put them in an airtight container or a cookie tin with some paper towels and store them in a cool place, so they will be preserved for 3 or 4 weeks.
Substitutions in the vanillekipferl recipe:
The more traditional recipe of these cookies doesn´t include egg, but I prefer to add some egg yolk so the dough can be easier to work with, and the resultant cookies will not have a so crumbly texture.
I already talked about it, but you can use almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts, in different Nordic countries these cookies are made of different nuts.
If you want to do a gluten-free version of these cookies you can replace the all-purpose flour with almond flour.
If you don’t have vanilla sugar and don’t have time (or want) to do it. don’t worry you could use vanilla extract
Vanillekipferl, vanilla crescents christmas cookies recipe
These delicious cookies are typical of Austria, but they are also well known in Germany and Switzerland especially at Christmas time.
- 11 oz flour
- 9 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
- 4 oz granulated white sugar
- 3 units egg yolks
- 5 oz ground hazelnuts or ground almonds
- 1 sachet for vanilla sugar
- icing sugar
On a clean table we put the dry ingredients: flour, the hazelnuts or almonds grounded and sugar, mix well and form a volcano.
Inside the volcano we put the yolks, and around the diced butter.
With the tips of the fingers we work the dough from the outside in as if "pinching" it until we obtain a compact dough.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350ªF
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and separate it into pieces about the size of a walnut.
With our hands we form thinner sticks at the ends, which when put on a baking can lined with parchment paper we will curve to give the typical crescent shape.
Bake for 15 minutes or until they are golden brown on the edges.
While cooking, mix the flower sugar with the vanilla sugar in a soup dish.Reserve
When taking the cookies out of the oven, we will carefully put them on the plate with the sugar for a few seconds so that they are impregnated with sugar.
Let cool and pass the cookies a second time for sugar and enjoy!