Viennese Vanillekipferln are traditional Christmas fare, although this shortbread is so easy and tasty that you will want to make them all year long. This shortbread recipe is made with ground hazelnuts and vanilla sugar, although some variations use almonds and others use ground peanuts. A nice thing about these cookies is that they age well; they are much better after they cool.
According to Wiki, the crescent shape came about when Vienna was celebrating one of their victories over the Ottoman empire.
Makes 5-6 dozen cookies
Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
- 1 3/4 c. cold, unsalted butter (400 grams)
- 4 2/3 c. flour (560 grams)
- 3/4 c. sugar (160 grams)
- 2 c. ground hazelnuts (200 grams)
- 1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla (optional)
- Vanilla sugar or powdered sugar for decoration (about 1 cup)
Cut butter into tablespoon chunks. Mix flour, sugar and hazelnuts with optional salt. Cut in butter (like you would for pie dough) or beat with a mixer on low speed until crumbs form.
Add the vanilla, if you are using it, and mix again, until dough comes together in a ball.
Form dough into 1 inch diameter rolls, wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably several hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Remove from the refrigerator and cut into 3/4 inch lengths. This is the traditional way of measuring the dough. You can also scoop or cut the dough into 1/2 ounce pieces (13-14 grams) in any manner you like.
Take each piece of dough and form a rope, about 3 inches in length and with tapered ends. The dough is a bit crumbly, but when warmed up in your hands it will stick together better.
Place on a non-stick or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until slightly browned.
Roll in vanilla sugar or powdered sugar while hot or warm. These cookies are fragile when hot, but become robust when they cool down.
Notes: Use any other ground nuts to vary the taste. Hazelnuts are very expensive in the US. I purchased a 12 ounce bag (Bob's Red Mill) for $10.79 in 2009. Almonds are a less expensive choice.
German baking does not usually use salt, but my American mother taught me that a pinch in cookies and cakes helps the flavor marry, so I include it.
Use vanilla in any form you prefer, such as vanilla paste, extract or scrape the inside of a vanilla bean. It is especially important in these cookies if you do not have vanilla sugar for the coating on hand. Otherwise, you could not call them "Vanillekipferln".