Vanillekipferl are another very popular Christmas biscuit in Germany. In my family it can’t be Christmas without them, so I make these delicious treats every year. They are a very short crumbly biscuit with a strong vanilla flavour, finished off with a generous dusting of icing sugar.
This week has been kind of crazy, because I was incredibly busy making a 2-tiered christening cake, large enough to feed 60 people. This was the biggest cake I have made so far – even my own wedding cake was only for 40 people! Because of that I am a bit behind with my Christmas baking now and have only been able to make biscuits again this weekend. I’ll be putting up a tutorial on the Christening cake in the new year once all the Christmas preparations are behind us 😉 Until then we still have lots of delicious Christmas-themed bakes to come!
The name originally comes from Austria: Kipferl is the Austrian word for any baked good shaped like a crescent moon. This can be a yeast dough bake or a biscuit, like in this case. The crescent moon shape is what makes these biscuits so distinctive and immediately recognisable!
Using a real vanilla pod in this recipe definitely gets a better result, because it gives the biscuits a more pronounced vanilla flavour. But using a good vanilla extract or even better, a vanilla bean paste is good too – especially seeing as vanilla pods can be rather expensive. I would definitely recommend choosing a vanilla paste with seeds in though, as one of the things you’d expect from a homemade Vanillekipferl is to see the vanilla seeds in the dough.
Vanillekipferl are very crumbly and fragile, especially when they are fresh out of the oven, so leave them on the trays until they are cool before moving them. The minute they come out of the oven they are dusted with a generous layer of a caster sugar and icing sugar mixture. If you have vanilla sugar then definitely use that – in Germany that is the kind of sugar used for this – as this will give them some extra flavour. But if you can’t get a hold of vanilla sugar, plain caster sugar will do as well. In Germany you can buy vanilla sugar in pretty much every supermarket in the baking section. But I know that this is not the case everywhere else, so don’t worry if you don’t have any. If you would like to make your own vanilla sugar (and this is actually very easy to do), just put some scraped out vanilla pods into a sealable container and cover with caster sugar. Leave for a couple of weeks before using it and the aroma from the vanilla pods will flavour the sugar. The longer you leave them, the stronger the flavour will get. I usually just leave mine in the sugar permanently, so I always have well flavoured vanilla sugar on hand.
Makes 45 biscuits
You will need
140g butter, softened
75g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
200g plain flour
100g ground almonds
2 tbsp vanilla sugar or caster sugar
4 tbsp icing sugar
- Put all the ingredients apart from the small amounts of caster and icing sugar into a bowl and mix into a smooth dough either using the dough hooks of an electric hand mixer or with the paddle attachment in a stand mixer. If using a vanilla pod, cut it in half lengthways with a sharp knife. Using the back of the knife, scrape out the seeds and add to the ingredients in the bowl.
- Divide the dough into three even pieces and roll each into a long sausage about 2cm in diameter. Wrap each in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C / gas mark 4 and line two baking trays with baking paper. Take the dough out of the fridge and cut each sausage into 15 pieces. Roll each piece in your hand to make a small sausage and taper both ends. Put on the baking tray, flatten slightly and bend into a crescent shape. Bake for 12 minutes or until ever so slightly golden around the edges.
- While they are in the oven, mix the caster and icing sugar in a small bowl. Dust the sugar mixture over the hot Vanillekipferl when they are fresh out of the oven using a tea strainer. Leave to cool completely on the tray. Will keep in an airtight container for a few weeks.