Vanillekipferl originate from Vienna in Austria, but versions of them are loved and baked throughout Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Switzerland, too. They are a non-negotiable must during Advent for me, and I regularly eat one with the first coffee of the day while it’s still pitch black outside—there’s something most satisfying about eating a moon-shaped biscuit while the moon is still visible in the sky.
This recipe is for the classic Austrian version made with ground almonds, which I find creamy and sweet, but ground hazelnuts are delicious, too, and in Hungary, walnut varieties are the most popular.
Vanillekipferl are renowned for their light, crumbly texture and thick icing sugar coat, which clings to each biscuit, giving them their signature flavor. The icing sugar is sifted on in heavy drifts as soon as the biscuits are out of the oven, so the under layer almost melts into the biscuit, while the outer layer stays fluffy and light. These are one of those foods you cannot eat or even think about without licking your lips.
Makes about 50
- 1 1/3 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup (80 grams) almond flour
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (125 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (75 grams) icing (confectioners’) sugar, plus plenty of extra to dust
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg yolk
Combine the flour, almond flour, and salt together in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and gently work it into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until it resembles something similar to breadcrumbs. Now add the confectioners’ sugar and mix through so it’s evenly dispersed. Add the vanilla extract along with the egg yolk, and bring the dough together with your hands. Knead for about 3 minutes until a soft, pliable dough is formed. (Alternatively, put all the ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat to a pliable dough on a low speed for a couple of minutes.)
Cover and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two large baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment.
Take small teaspoon-sized pieces of dough and roll them into little sausages, 2 inches long, with tapered edges, then form each into a crescent shape and place gently on a baking sheet.
Bake for about 12 minutes, until just starting to color. Leave to cool on the sheet for a minute, then transfer to a wire rack. While the biscuits are still hot, liberally sift over confectioners’ sugar to dust.
Once completely cool, store the biscuits in an airtight container. They will last a good 3 weeks.
Recipe and image excerpted from “Advent: Festive German Bakes to Celebrate the Coming of Christmas” by Anja Dunk. Text copyright Anja Dunk 2021. Photography copyright Anja Dunk 2021. Published in 2021 by Quadrille, an imprint of Hardie Grant Publishing.