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 and salt can be substituted with salted butter.
Ground almonds can be substituted with almond flour, or ground walnuts, hazelnuts, or pecans.
It is also extremely important to properly measure your flour for this recipe. I use the spoon and level method: use a spoon to fill your measuring cup with flour, then level off with a knife.
Scooping with your measuring cup compacts flour into the cup, adding up to 25% extra flour to your recipe.
For an even more accurate method, use a kitchen scale.
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 peanut (or 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.
To make your own: I like to reference this post from 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.
Your dough will look crumbly, but will hold together when pinched between your fingers.
If your dough isn't holding together and very crumbly, add a tablespoon of water at a time until the dough holds together when pinched. This could also be due to adding too much flour to the dough (see Ingredients section above on measuring flour).
Scoop your dough using a medium cookie scoop - these cookie scoops are life savers when it comes to making cookies.
If you don't have a cookie scoop, the medium scoop is 1.5 tablespoons. I'd suggest scooping a heaping tablespoon of dough for each crescent.
Shaping dough into crescents
Next, you'll want to take each scoop of dough and gently (but quickly) shape them into a crescent moon shape.
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 will become. The warmer the dough, the more it will spread when baking. 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.
Vanillekipferl - Vanilla Crescent Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter cold
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup ground almonds
- ½ cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar *
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons 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 (up to 24 hours).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees 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 12-14 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.
- Meanwhile, combine dusting ingredients - 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 ½ teaspoons of vanilla sugar. To make 24 cookies with this recipe, you will need 3 packets of vanilla sugar, or 4 ½ teaspoons.
- Almonds can be substituted with walnuts or hazelnuts instead.