Austrian Vanilla Crescents (Vanillekipferl)

November 3, 2015

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This is a recipe for one of Austria's most famous cookies: Vanillekipferl. The recipe, including the preparation of vanilla sugar, is very detailed. But I figured, if you didn’t grow up making Vanillekipferl each year for the holidays, it’s not that self-explanatory.

The coating for Vanillekipferl consists of powdered sugar mixed with vanilla sugar. In Europe, most people use vanilla sugar (vanilla-flavored granulated sugar) instead of vanilla extract, which you can buy in every store. In the U.S., it’s hard to find in supermarkets or it is super-expensive.

Here is a recipe for Homemade Vanilla Sugar using vanilla extract to avoid the black dots from the vanilla bean http://www.lilvienna.com/homemade-vanilla-sugar.

If you are too lazy to make your own vanilla sugar, just use confectioner's sugar without flavor. It's fine—the dough for the crescents is already vanilla-flavored.

The last time I made this recipe, I did it alone. But honestly, helpers are highly recommended! And most important: 80 to 100 cookies sounds like ridiculously too much—but do not downscale as, I promise, they will not keep long!

Also—while I've provided volume measurements, I highly recommend measuring all of the dough ingredients by weight, if possible.

Done? Then you can start baking Vanillekipferl.
Ursula | Lil Vienna

Food52 Review: I love this type of cookie and this recipe didn't disappoint. The recipe is straightforward and worked exactly as written. I had almond meal on hand, so I used that and I did not make the homemade vanilla sugar (recipe on her blog). If you're using almond meal, you can make the whole recipe in the food processor. I also found that it took about 2 minutes to knead the dough. I got 25 cookies per dough quarter. They were lightly browned, not overly sweet, and had a good nutty flavor—and I love the powdered sugar. I'd like to try the vanilla sugar next time.Annie "Smalls"

Makes: 80 to 100 cookies

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 14 tablespoons (200 grams) cold, unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (100 grams) finely ground walnuts (substitute with almond meal, if not available)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cold milk
  • 2/3 cup (70 grams) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • All ingredients for the dough should be very cold. I recommend measuring the flour, sugar, and nuts by weight in grams since it is more accurate than measuring by volume.

For the sugar coating:

  • 3/4 cup (100 g) powdered/confectioners'/icing sugar
  • 2 packets (16 g) vanilla sugar or homemade vanilla sugar
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes, then set aside in the freezer to keep cold. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Weigh the flour and set aside in the freezer or fridge as well. The colder the ingredients, the better.
  3. Grind walnuts very finely with a mouli grater (I couldn’t find walnut meal). Don’t use a food processor—the chopped pieces will still come out too big. Alternatively, use almond meal, which is also commonly used for baking Vanillekipferl in Austria.
  4. Put flour and butter in a food processor and pulse a couple of times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. If you use a small food processor, you can do it in two batches. By hand: Use a pastry cutter or rub the cold butter cubes and flour between your fingers until it resembles coarse meal.
  5. In a mixing bowl, mix egg yolks together with vanilla and milk, just until combined.
  6. Add butter-flour crumbs, walnuts, sugar, and salt to the egg mixture and stir until the ingredients come together as a dough.
  7. In the bowl, knead the dough with your hands until well combined, for about 30 seconds.
  8. Cut the dough into quarters, keep one on the counter, and set the rest of the dough aside in the fridge. Cover the bowl of dough so the dough won’t get dry.
  9. Divide the dough into egg-sized pieces and roll out each of them with your hand into strands about 1/2-inch in diameter.
  10. Cut the strands into 2-inch long pieces. Use your hands to roll out every piece to about 3 to 3 1/2 inches long and shape into crescents. Make the ends slightly thinner, but not too thin, as they will brown first.
  11. Arrange the shaped crescents on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (makes the handling a lot easier), at least 1/2-inch apart from each other.
  12. Bake the cookies in the center rack of the oven (I use rack 3 of 4 from bottom) in a 350° F preheated oven for 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly colored. Don’t let them color too much.
  13. To make the sugar coating: Mix sifted confectioner's sugar and granulated or vanilla sugar until well combined. If using homemade vanilla sugar, mix most of it with the sifted powdered sugar, keeping a tiny amount aside in case you need more confectioner's sugar for the coating.
  14. Put the coating on a plate and prepare an empty plate for the finished Vanillekipferl. Meanwhile you can start rolling out the next batch.
  15. Take out the baking sheet from the oven, removing the cookies immediately, so they don’t continue baking. If you are using parchment paper, you can carefully remove the cookies along with the parchment paper. If not, remove them with a spatula and set them aside. Be careful, as they break easily when they are hot.
  16. Let them cool for 1 minute, then put several crescents in the prepared sugar-vanilla mixture, roll them around until covered in sugar and transfer to a plate. Be careful not to break them—because then you have to eat them immediately ;-). The sugar will stick best when the cookies are still warm while you're rolling them. Also, don’t touch them for too long on the same spot as this will yield in Vanillekipferl with fingerprints. If you did so, you can always sprinkle them with additional sugar when finished or before serving.
  17. Now roll out your next batch of dough, but don’t put the dough crescents on a warm baking sheet. I always arrange them onto a sheet of parchment paper with a big cutting board underneath and transfer the paper onto the sheet just before baking. Or you use 2 or 3 separate sheets for baking them, especially if you have some helpers (recommended!). Repeat with each batch of dough.
  18. When completely cool, store crescents in an airtight container or cookie box.

More Great Recipes:
Candy|Cookie|Cake|Austrian|Walnut|Vanilla|Cheese|Egg|Milk/Cream|Make Ahead|Christmas|Hanukkah

Reviews (7) Questions (0)

7 Reviews

Nicole S. January 22, 2018
It looks a lot like the recipe my family uses (we live in the Czech Republic). We bake them about three weeks before Christmas and keep them in a paper towel lined box in the pantry (anywhere dry and cool will do - not fridge). They keep easily till New Year.
 
Author Comment
Ursula |. January 23, 2018
Hi Nicole,<br />I can easily believe that, given the geographical proximity of Austria and Czech Republic ;-) My family often bakes these cookies in advance too and puts them in a cookie tin, stored at a cool place, as you've mentioned. They will last for weeks, if not months. Aren't vanilla crescents the best. At least, I really do think so. Hope you had a lot of them over the holidays.
 
lisa December 5, 2015
I've tasted these cookies in Austria, and they are delicious! But I don't have a food processor, so how do you mix frozen butter cube with flour?
 
Author Comment
Ursula |. December 5, 2015
Hi Lisa,<br />Thanks for the question. I just added this method in the recipe.<br />Of course, you can make the cookies without food processor. Just use a pastry cutter or rub the cold butter cubes and flour between your fingers until it resembles coarse meal. If I do this step by hand I cut the butter even in smaller cubes than 1/2 inch – let‘s say 1/4 inch and pop the cubes into the freezer for 15 minutes or so. This way it is much easier. Hope this helps.<br />
 
lisa December 5, 2015
Thank you, Ursula. Now I feel confident to make these cookies!
 
Sandra R. December 4, 2015
My Croatian/German mother made these every year for Christmas! She ground the walnuts with a hand cranked grinder clamped to the kitchen table and a wooden stopper to push the nuts through. We loved these cookies the best. Never was a food processor used and they all turned out perfect. They were stored in ice cream pails and put in the huge freezer with all her other Christmas treats until the freezer was nearly full. We always called these 'Moon Cookies'.
 
Author Comment
Ursula |. December 5, 2015
Hi Sandra,<br />Interesting, so far I've never tried freezing the cookies. I'll definite try this. They also keep well in a container at cool room temperature - but in my case, their life is pretty short ;-)