Vanillekipferl (pronounced va-nil-le-kip-ferl, for audio click here are traditional German and Austrian Christmas Cookies. Their distinctive crescent shape makes the Vanillekipferl instantly recognisable amongst the other colourful, and sometimes elaborately decorated, Christmas biscuits/cookies made during the holiday season. They are always made in the unique ‘kipfler’, or horseshoe shape, and they can also be called Vanilla Almond Half Moon biscuits. These delicate and lightly sweet almond flavoured shortbread, are coated in a combination of icing and vanilla sugars. They also have a wonderful, melt-in-your-mouth texture, and are usually served along side other cookies shaped like stars, to complete the setting.
Although Vanillekipferl originated in Vienna, Austria, they are also very popular in many other eastern European countries, including Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and the Czech Republic. For more information, and on the history about the Vanillekipferl, you can read more here.
Making these cookies does take a little time and patience, but they are definitely worth the effort. You start out by rolling the dough between your palms, then gently shaping it into a crescent, being the shape of the Vanillekipferl. Don’t worry too much about them being exactly uniform. No two Vanillekipferl are ever exactly the same, because the pressure applied when rolling them will always vary. However, this is what makes them so beautifully unique and, after all, they are homemade.
I had never made these cookies before we began eating gluten free, so I’m not sure how well the icing sugar mixture sticks to the gluten and dairy full version of Vanillekipferl. I found my mine needed to be tossed through the vanilla sugar twice, as this way I achieved a much more even coating.
They also make a lovely gift at this time of year. You can place them in small bags, tied with pretty ribbon and label, and give them to someone special.
For accurate cup measurements, I sift the potato starch and icing sugar before measuring, so that there are no lumps/clumps. All cup measurements are firmly packed.
Recipe Update: I’m currently using the Bob’s Red Mill brand of xanthan gum, as I’m no longer able to buy the Nu-vit brand. I have found by using this brand, I’ve needed to increase the xanthan gum by an extra ⅛ teaspoon. I have also slightly changed the method for the vanilla sugar coating.
Important Note: we have quite warm to hot days here in Australia during the festive season, which can make handling and rolling cookie dough quite tricky. The below method makes working with the dough a lot easier.
Roll out all your mixture into balls and place them onto trays lined with baking paper/parchment. Now place them back in the refrigerator to chill for about 15 minutes, or until well chilled. I then work with one tray at a time to shape each ball into a crescent shape.
Makes approximately 43 cookies
91g (3.2 ounces or ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon) almond flour/meal
96g (3.4 ounces ¾ cup) superfine white rice flour
55g (1.9 ounces or ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon) potato starch
40g (1.4 ounces or ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon) tapioca starch
35g (1.2 ounces or ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon) corn starch
¼ teaspoon plus ⅛ teaspoon (1.875ml) xanthan gum
182g (6.4 ounces or ounces or ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon) gluten and dairy free butter
96g (3.4 ounces or ½ cup) golden/raw caster sugar or superfine white sugar (I use this brand)
24g (0.8 ounces or 2 tablespoons) vanilla sugar (recipe found here)
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
Vanilla Sugar Coating
72g (2.6 ounces or ½ cup) soft icing sugar, sifted (I use this brand)
36g (1.3 ounces or 3 tablespoons) vanilla sugar (recipe found here)
Sift all the dry ingredients together and then set aside.
Use a handheld mixer to cream the butter and sugars together, until light and fluffy, which takes about 3 minutes.
Next, add the egg yolks and beat until well combined.
Add the sifted flours to the butter mixture and beat on the lowest speed, until just combined.
Use a sturdy spatula to bring the cookie dough together and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap, before refrigerating for 90 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 140C and line two large trays with baking paper/parchment.
Take 15g (0.5 ounces or approximately 1 tablespoon) of the mixture and roll it into a smooth ball, before forming it into a small log about 6cm long between your palms. Now gently shape it into a crescent and place it on the prepared tray. Alternatively, you can place a piece of baking paper/parchment onto the counter top and then gently roll the dough into the log shape…just use which ever method you find the easiest. Place the cookies about 3cm apart, as they do spread a little during baking. If the dough become too warm to work with, just pop it back in the refrigerator to chill again. *However, if it’s a particularly warm day, please follow the instructions in the notes above.
Bake one tray at a time in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, until the cookies have a slight golden hue around the edges.
While the Vanillekipferl are baking, place the vanilla sugar into a spice grinder and process until the sugar becomes quite fine in texture, before sifting both the sugars together into a bowl.
Once baked, allow the cookies to cool on their trays for about 2 minutes. When cooled, use a palette knife or thin egg slice, to gently loosen the cookies from the baking paper/parchment.
Next, carefully toss them one at a time through the vanilla sugar, lightly pressing it onto the cookie to coat. Just be careful as you do this, because the cookies will still be warm and delicate. Then place your sugarcoated Vanillekipferl on a wire rack, to cool a little further.
Once they have cooled some more, toss them again through the sugar mixture a second time, before allowing placing back on the rack to cool completely.
Store them in an airtight container.
Recipe by: The Gluten & Dairy Free Bakehouse
Note: all recipe oven temperatures shown are for a fan forced electric oven. Please refer to the below guide to help you adjust your oven accordingly. This recipe is shown in bold.
Oven Temperatures Chart
130C = 110C fan = 250F = Gas mark 1
150C = 130C fan = 300F = Gas mark 2
160C = 140C fan = 325F = Gas mark 3
180C = 160C fan = 350F = Gas mark 4
190C = 170C fan = 375F = Gas mark 5
200C = 180C fan = 400F = Gas mark 6
220C = 200C fan = 425F = Gas mark 7
230C = 210C fan = 450F = Gas mark 8