Austrian Vanilla Crescents (Vanillekipferl)

By Angelika Hanna

Austrian Vanilla Crescents have been my favorite Christmas treat every year since I was a child growing up in Germany. My interest in the kitchen started with baking holiday cookies with my mother (rolling out the cookie dough and creating cookies of different shapes with cookie cutters) at an age when I had to kneel on a chair to reach the kitchen counter.

'Vanillekipferl' are popular throughout Central Europe during the Christmas season, in particular in Austria, Germany, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.

The name ‘Vanillekipferl’ translates into ‘Vanilla Crescent.’ Cultural Heritage/Origin Legend tells that their shape was created to resemble the Turkish crescent moon, symbolizing the celebration of the victory of the Hungarian army over the Ottoman Turkish in one of the many wars between the European nations around 400 years ago.

Recipe:

Prep Time: 2 hrs

Bake Time: 25-30 min

Total Time: 2 hrs 30 min

Yield: 40 (2 inch) biscuits

Cuisine: Austrian

Author: Angelika Hanna / Zest4Food

Ingredients:

  • 12 tbsp butter, unsalted, room temperature, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 large egg yolks

For the coating:

  • Icing sugar

Instructions:

  1. Combine the butter and flour preferably in the food processor or with your mixer in a bowl. The mixture should result in coarse and flaky crumbs.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine vanilla sugar or extract, salt, egg yolk and powdered sugar using a mixer.
  3. Add the ground almonds to the egg yolk/icing sugar mix and knead the ingredients through with your hands until you have moist and sticky dough.
  4. Add the butter/flour crumbs to the sticky dough and knead with your hands until all ingredients are well combined into a firm dough.
  5. Roll your dough into long ropes, cut them into approx. 3 inch long ropes and shape them with your hands into a crescent (half moon).
  6. Put your crescents on parchment paper on plates, cover the with plastic foil and place your plate(s) in the fridge for at least an hour (I let them sit in the fridge over night) to develop the flavor.
  7. When well cooled, take your crescents out of the fridge and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Put the parchment paper with the crescents on a baking sheet. The dough should have a firm texture, and the crescents should not stick on the paper.
  9. Bake the crescents, one baking sheet at a time, for 12-15 min. until the tops of the biscuits are light brown. (I personally prefer them a little darker so that they taste stronger like browned butter.)
  10. Let the baked biscuits sit on the baking sheet for 2-3 min., then transfer then to a plate and coat then with some icing sugar while they are still warm.
  11. Leave the crescents out overnight to let cool off completely and harden. Then, store them in an air-tight container or in a tin.

Happy Holidays!

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