There is no doubt, at least in my mind, that European cookies are like no other. I especially love German and Austrian Christmas cookies. They are literally everything you’re looking for. Soft, buttery and melt in your mouth. No matter how many times your ingredients start with butter, sugar and flour, you will always end up with a totally different taste. When baking European cookies, I try my best to stick to the original recipe. This is what I did with my double chocolate orange biscotti. These buttery Vanillekipferl are no exception.
These cookies are popular throughout Europe, but especially in Germany, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary. Many people call them their favorite Christmas cookies. Though popular, in many countries, these cookies originated in Vienna almost 400 years ago. However, the oldest written recipe dates to 1911.
Kipferl, literally translates to crescent. The cookies are rolled and shaped by hand in the shapes of crescents. As the name suggests, these cookies are infused with vanilla. Originally, vanilla seeds were used to flavor the dough and the pods were used to make the vanilla sugar. This is exactly what I did for this recipe and strongly recommend that you do too. Although many people use vanilla essence or extract, but the truth is they just taste different with real vanilla pods.
Let’s get baking…
The high butter ratio and the absence of eggs give these cookies a melt in your mouth texture like no other. You might find recipes that call for the use of eggs to have a softer more pliable dough. I found this absolutely unnecessary. This dough was soft and tasted like heaven. To achieve this, I play with the proportion of flour to nuts. I use less flour and nuts than most recipes call for, nut I assure you the end result is impeccable.
Should I use butter?
By all means. Cookies are made of love and butter. Do not use margarine or shortening.
Which nuts should I use?
Traditionally, these are made with walnuts. I used pecans here. Almonds and hazelnuts are also very popular choices. Go with whatever you have, what matters though is to use freshly ground nuts.
How do I deal with a crumbling dough?
Although this never happened to me with this recipe, but if it does, add milk ½ tsp at a time. Like I said, I strongly advice against eggs as it completely changes the texture.
How should I shape the cookies?
Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and shape each part into a log using cling film. Then, refrigerate for 45 minutes. After that cut each quarter into equally sized pieces, (7 – 8). Shape each piece into a crescent. Do not worry if they don’t like identical or if they look small. All this will change once they are baked.
It is important that you work with each quarter at a time and keep the rest in the fridge.
How long should I bake them?
Do not bake for longer than 10 minutes at 175 °C. If you bake them for any longer, they will become more fragile and they will break very easily.
How many times should the cookies be dusted?
As soon as they are out of the oven, dust with vanilla sugar. The hot cookies will melt the sugar and will coat the cookie. This will give the cookies their famous taste and will help keep them fresh and soft as the sugar will form a protective layer. After the cookies are completely cool, dust again with sugar.
Should I use vanilla sugar?
Vanilla sugar gives the cookies their distinctive taste, do not use normal icing sugar. Add vanilla pods to the sugar and you will have vanilla sugar.
How long can would they keep?
Kipferl taste better after a couple of days of baking, after which they develop the right texture. They keep really well in an airtight container a couple of weeks.
Vanilla Kipferl (Asutrian Christmas cookies)
- 100 g butter
- 45 g icing sugar
- Vanilla seeds from 1 vanilla pod
- 125 g flour
- 35 g pecans finely ground
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- Vanilla sugar as needed
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cream the butter and icing sugar until light and smooth. Add the vanilla seeds until evenly blended.
- Add the flour, cinnamon and ground pecans and mix until just blended.
- Divide into 4 equal parts and shape each into a log using the cling film and chill for 45 min – 1 hour.
- Divide each quarter into 8 equal pieces and form into a crescent shape.
- Bake for 8 – 10 mins at 175 °C.
- While still hot out of the oven dust with vanilla sugar. Repeat once cookies are completely cool.