The most common, most baked Christmas Cookies in central Europe – next to the Gingerbread cookies – are the lovely crescent shaped Vanilla cookies, better known as Vanillekipferl. My country, Austria is literally addicted to those cookies, and for that reason you will see this biscuit baked in nearly every household during Christmas time. I remember making those with my mother when I was small and I know they are my dads favorite cookies. He will be smiling now reading that.
The Vanillekipferl is easy to make, BUT they are also a bit tricky while forming them into crescents. If you have worked with shortcrust pastry before, then you will know what I mean with “tricky”. The main basic ingredients to make a shortcrust are flour, butter and a tiny amount of water. You might recall, that I have used shortcrust pastries in masses in my cooking. Quiche and Tart pastries for instance require a short crust pastry, just as well as the recent Spritzgebäck cookies that I had shared with you in the past.
Many friends have been telling me that they have trouble working with shortcrust pastries because they tend to break easily, while forming and after baking. My recipes contain the correct ratio of ingredients, so the chances are low that they break when you recreate them.
Often in my opinion, the problem of the “falling apart”occurs simply because the pastry wasn’t kept to rest long enough in the fridge. This is important or the dough forming turns into a challenge. Further, notice as well, that excess working out of the dough might cause the dough to not “adhere” enough and so it will fall apart. These are simple rules for you to follow and they will help you in creating the perfect short crust dough! =)
By the way, the Vanillakipferls are known to be a typical Viennese tradition, having been invented by a talented baker in Vienna some ~400 years back. Apparently after the Ottoman Turks had sieged Vienna in the 16th and 17th Century, the locals came up with the Vanillekipferl.
Kipferl meaning “moon, crescent shaped” was inspired by the Muslim/Turkish banner, which includes a moon, and so to commemorate the siege, they formed the cookies into a crescent – moon shape. In Austria there are other pastries as well that are called Kipferl, including croissants and stuffed pastries.
Apparently the Turks had sweets in that form as well and they were the ones to bring with them also pure vanilla and even coffee! They are the reason that Vienna turned into one big Coffee house heaven with all the famous cakes and coffee types such as the Melange. The crescent shape itself traveled later on to France where the name was altered accordingly.
I could go on like that with lots more history facts, but I don’t want to torture you with my passion for history! =P
My Vanillekipferl recipe is a mixture of different recipes that I have worked out over time into a new great recipe. Hazelnuts are usually the first choice when making the crescents, but we in India don’t get hazelnuts, so I started to use Almonds. The traditional short crust pastry for the kipferl doesn’t include eggs. That might complicate a bit the forming process of the kipferl, but it is required if you want a melting moment on your tongue.
By the way, since I used Almonds here, it will kind of help the cookies to rise a bit in the oven. Almond is known to be an excellent Egg substitute and so the recipe here is Vegan. Further we don’t get Vanilla sugar here (if you know where I can get packed vanilla sugar in Goa, please let me know!) so I had to come up with a home made vanillasugar mixture which is awesome when used while coating, but honestly for the pastry itself, I and my friends here would prefer the packet ones.
Homemade Vanilla sugar is easy to make, you just need sugar and Vanilla beans. Simply cut the vanilla bean into half, take out all the seeds and add it to 100 grams sugar in a high jar or similar, and add the empty vanilla bean as well. Close the jar and shake well. Do that everyday for at least 10 days! Then I grind the sugar to powder. You can mix the Vanilla seeds with powdered sugar from the beginning. I prefer grinding it at the end together with the vanilla seeds. It’s an easy “recipe” and that’s how you make your own Vanilla Sugar.
Otherwise you can also use the packed vanilla sugar from the store and mix it with powdered sugar for the coating after the baking.
- 150 grams soft Butter
- 70 grams powdered Sugar
- 8 grams Vanilla sugar (preferably branded one)
- 100 grams white grinded Almond flour
- 200 grams white Flour
- Home made Vanilla sugar (check the post before this recipe for the details )
- Start by mixing the soft butter, powdered sugar and vanilla sugar smooth.
- Then add sieved white flour and almond flour to the mixture and incorporate the ingredients with your hands to a smooth pastry. For example there shouldn't be any visible butter pieces, that's when you know you have mixed it enough. Don't work it out anymore or the dough won't hold together later!
- Keep it to rest minimum 1 h in the fridge or in a cool place. I keep mine always over night, so that the flavor in my cookies turn more intense.
- Once ready to be used, form the dough into a sausage shape with a 2 cm thickness. Cut thick slices so, that each should be around 20 grams heavy.
- Preheat the oven to 200 Celsius!
- Roll each "sausage" pastry slice into a smaller sausage with pointed ends and shape it into a half moon/crescent form.
- Place them onto a baking tray, each with enough space around to rise a bit, and bake them for 10 minutes a 200 Celsius to a light yellow shade.
- While the cookies are baking, prepare a plate with the home made Vanilla sugar.
- Add the cookies to the homemade Vanilla sugar in the plate, once they are finished baked and they have cooled down for at least 1-2 minutes and roll them and coat them well with that sugar.
- Best stored in a metal Cookie boxed with baking paper (butter paper) and apple slices on top. Note that the Vanillakipferl cookies are very fragile and might break when coming out of the oven, that is why you should give them 1-2 minutes to rest. During that time they harden when they take contact with air. It's important to roll them into the homemade Vanilla sugar when they are still hot, so that the sugar sticks on the cookies!
The Vanillekipferl cookie was mentioned at Copykat.com. Discover more cookie ideas!
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