Vanillekipferl are vanilla crescent cookies filled with nuts and dusted in a generous coating of vanilla sugar. A popular European treat, these delicate cookies are perfect for holiday cookie trays.
Vanillekipferl are crescent shaped cookies, popular in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, and Slovakia. Their signature taste comes from vanilla sugar, a common baking ingredient in Europe.
While vanilla sugar is not common in the United States, it is easy to find online. I also have a few simple ways to make your own at home!
Vanillekipferl remind me of a shortbread cookie, with the addition of ground nuts. They are tender and buttery, with added texture of ground almonds.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Unsalted butter - Can be substituted with salted butter if needed (you'll also want to omit the listed salt).
- All-purpose flour - Adds structure to your cookies. I have not tested this recipe with other types of flours, so I can't say how your cookies would turn out by making flour substitutions. If you don't have all-purpose flour on hand, I recommend searching for a recipe that can be made without substitutions for best success.
- Ground almonds - Can be substituted with almond flour or other ground nuts, like walnuts, hazelnuts, or pecans.
- Confectioner's sugar - I use confectioner's sugar in this dough because it's slightly easier to work with in a shortbread type dough when compared to granulated sugar. It also gives the cookies a tender, soft texture when baked. You'll also need a bit of confectioner's sugar for dusting on top.
- Vanilla sugar - This ingredient can be omitted if you don't have any on hand. I've also included instructions on how to make vanilla sugar below (and in the recipe card) if you'd like to make your own.
- Salt - Enhances the flavor of your cookies without making them "salty".
How to make ground almonds
If you don't have ground almonds on hand, it is easy to make your own with whole, raw almonds.
Add your almonds to a food processor, then pulse until you have a coarse meal.
You can use this method for any type of nuts. Be careful not to blend your nuts too much - this is how you make almond butter.
How to make vanilla sugar
Vanilla sugar is a common baking ingredient in Europe, and widely available in stores overseas. However, it is uncommon in the United States.
I found these packets of vanillinzucker on Amazon, which worked perfectly. Keep in mind that vanillezucker is made with real vanilla and vanillinzucker is made with artificial vanilla.
If you'd like to make your own, I recommend checking out this post by The Kitchen Maus: Vanilla Sugar. She compares several types of vanilla sugar and shows you how to make your own using vanilla beans.
You can also make vanilla sugar using vanilla extract. In a food processor, combine ¼ cup of granulated sugar with ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Spread it out to dry. Once dried, the sugar will be clumpy. Transfer back to the food processor and pulse until you have a sugar consistency again.
Tips for baking cookies
For my full list of tips and tricks for making a perfect batch of cookies, check out my post: 10 tips for baking cookies
- Measure flour correctly - The number one issue I see consistently in baking is the mismeasuring of flour. Adding too much flour to a baking recipe will make the dough turn out crumbly and dry, with a diluted flavor. While this crescent cookie dough is a little crumbly (it is a tender, buttery cookie much like a shortbread cookie), it will come together with a little shaping. To properly measure flour, I highly recommend using a kitchen scale. If you don't have a kitchen scale, gently stir your flour with a spoon, then spoon the flour into your measuring cup and level off the top with a knife. Scooping flour directly from a bin with your cup compacts the flour into the cup, adding up to 25% extra flour to the recipe.
- Chill your dough - The step of chilling your dough should not be skipped for several reasons. Chilling the dough helps the flavors to meld, but it also helps your dough firm up, making it easier to manipulate and roll into balls. Chilled dough also spreads less in the oven.
- Keep an eye on your cookies in the oven - Baking times in any recipe are recommendations based on the writer's own experience, and can vary greatly based on your own oven settings. Ovens can run hotter or colder than the next, even when set to the same temperature. I recommend keeping an eye on your cookies instead of the time, and take them out when they look done.
Shaping dough into crescents
For consistent shape and size, I recommend using a medium cookie scoop to portion out your dough, which is 1.5 tablespoons. While not required (the dough can be rolled by hand), this ensures your cookies all turn out the exact same size.
Roll the ball of dough between your hands to make a log, lay onto your baking sheet, then gently turn the ends into a crescent shape.
Be careful - the more you handle the dough, the softer and stickier it becomes. The warmer the dough, the more it will spread when baking. If needed, return your dough to the refrigerator until it firms up again.
Just out of the oven, dust the top of each cookie with a generous layer of dusting sugar. The initial layer may melt slightly, so feel free to dust each cookie twice.
Storage and freezing
Leftover crescent cookies will keep for up to 5 days in a tightly sealed container at room temperature. Homemade cookies begin to dry out after about two days, so I recommend adding a slice of bread to your cookie container. The bread dries out instead of the cookies, helping keep them fresh for longer.
Baked cookies can also be frozen for three months or more in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. To thaw, place on the countertop for an hour or more.
Vanillekipferl - Vanilla Crescent Cookies
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, cold
- 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (96 g) ground almonds
- ½ cup (57 g) confectioner's sugar
- 1 tablespoon (12 g) vanilla sugar, *
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup (38 g) confectioner's sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons (6 g) vanilla sugar, *
- Slice cold butter into cubes. In a food processor, add flour and cubed butter. Pulse until butter is the size of small peas. Alternately, use a fork or pastry blender to incorporate butter into flour.
- Add the remaining ingredients to your flour mixture - ground almonds, confectioner's sugar, vanilla sugar, and salt. Mix until combined. Dough should be crumbly, but hold together when pinched between two fingers. If you're having trouble getting your dough to come together, add up to a tablespoon of water and mix until a dough forms.
- Toss dough out onto wax paper or parchment. Form into a disc, wrap, and refrigerate for one hour (or up to 24 hours).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Scoop dough using a medium cookie scoop (1.5 tablespoons) and shape into a crescents with your hands. Work quickly - your hands will warm the dough, so try to handle as little as possible.
- Place crescents 2 inches apart on a lined baking sheet. Bake for about 12-14 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.
- Meanwhile, combine confectioner's sugar and vanilla sugar in a small bowl.
- Immediately upon removing cookies from the oven, top each cookie generously with prepared dusting sugar.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before storing.
- *If you do not have vanilla sugar on hand, it can be purchased on Amazon, or you can make your own using vanilla extract.
- How to make vanilla sugar: In a food processor, combine ¼ cup of granulated sugar with ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract. Spread it out to dry. Once dried, the sugar will be clumpy. Transfer back to the food processor and pulse until you have a sugar consistency again.
- One packet of vanillezucker/vanillinzucker contains about 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla sugar. To make 24 cookies with this recipe, you will need 3 packets of vanilla sugar, or 4.5 teaspoons.
- Almonds can be substituted with walnuts or hazelnuts.
- Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking cookies, based on reader comments and questions!