Vanillekipferl originated in Vienna, Austria and are popular throughout central Europe during the Christmas season. They are crumbly butter cookies shaped into crescents and coated in vanilla sugar. The base of the cookie is a mixture of flour and ground nuts. This recipe uses almonds, but hazelnuts are also popular.
These cookies are delicate, in dough form and while still warm. I shaped the pieces into crescents on the cutting board so my hands wouldn’t warm them too much. I used a large spoon to transfer the baked cookies from the baking sheet to the bowl of vanilla sugar. Once they were coated in the sugar, I was able to gently move them to the wire rack.
Vanilla sugar really adds something special to these cookies. You can buy small packets of vanilla sugar in the European section of many larger supermarkets, but it is easy to make at home. Scrape out the seeds of one vanilla bean and mix well with 2 cups granulated or powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container with the scraped out vanilla beans. I used granulated vanilla sugar to coat these Vanillekipferl, but powdered sugar is also common.
Vanillekipferl (Austrian Vanilla Crescent Cookies)
Adapted from Delicious Days, from Plätzchen, Stollen, Kuchen – Backen von A-Z, Brigitte Inlay ’94
200 grams (1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) all purpose flour
100 grams (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) peeled and ground almonds (almond meal)
80 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) caster sugar
1 vanilla bean
175 grams (12 1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 egg yolks
Vanilla sugar (about 1 cup) for coating
In a large bowl, combine flour, ground almonds, and caster sugar. Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the mixture. Mix in butter and egg yolks until dough comes together.
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Form each piece into a log and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or lightly grease. Pour the vanilla sugar into a wide rimmed bowl. Remove one roll from the refrigerator. Cut the log into 16 equal pieces. Form each piece into a small roll with tapered ends and gently form into a crescent.
Place the crescents on the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake in preheated oven until set and the bottom edges become golden, 10-15 minutes. While still warm, carefully transfer the cookies one at a time from baking sheet to vanilla sugar. Coat on all sides and place on wire rack. Repeat with remaining cookies and remaining logs of dough.