With everything going on at work currently I totally feel left out from all the fun baking a myriads of cookies and sweet somethings. I can’t believe I’ve only made four different sorts of cookies and not only is time running out, but my little cache is exposed to edacious vandalism on a daily basis.
But no matter how stressful these pre-Christmas days are, there will never be a Christmas season without home baked Vanillekipferl (vanilla crescents). No other cookie is as essential for me getting in tune with the holiday season and quenching my cookie munching desires. Vanillekipferl simply have become a Christmas standard. My favourite recipe is from an old German magazine inlay (Plätzchen, Stollen, Kuchen – Backen von A-Z, Brigitte Inlay ’94). It even beats the one my grandma used to make; would this already be considered “disloyal to family traditions”, hope not…
In the past I substituted the ground peeled almonds with ground hazelnuts for a change and dipped the ends in melted milk chocolate, which produces a more rustic variation – delicious nevertheless.
Blend together the almonds with the flour, sugar, butter, egg yolks and vanilla seeds and knead well to form a dough (our KitchenAid mixer does a perfect job here, really no need to knead the dough with your hands – unless you’re into getting messy with your hands :) Shape four equal sized rolls and chill for at least an hour, wrapped in plastic.
Preheat the oven to 175°C (347°F). Cut rolls into 15 to 20 equal pieces each, depending on whether you’re going for smaller or bigger crescents. Form pieces into small rolls with pointy tapering ends and bend these into crescents. Depending on your ambition, this can be rather time-consuming: Each year I try to perfection my way of forming crescents, the ultimate goal are absolutely equally shaped little beauties. Although I came pretty close to the mark this year, hasn’t each little crescents deserved its own personality?
Place them on a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake in the oven until light golden, about 10-15 minutes (they should not turn brown!). Dredge the crescents while still warm in vanilla sugar – but handle with care! They have to be still warm, otherwise the sugar won’t cover/stick to them very good, but they also break pretty easily at this stage. Don’t despair if it happens: just another great occasion for quality assurance, double and triple-checking your results…
Note: A good way to always have some vanilla sugar readily available: Keep caster sugar and one (or more) scraped-out, almost empty vanilla bean (could have been used for something else) in an air tight jar, after a few days you’ll enjoy your own vanilla flavoured sugar. First seen on Jamie Oliver’s show some years ago, but probably not his invention, ‘don’t know.
Recipe source: Plätzchen, Stollen, Kuchen - Backen von A-Z (Brigitte Inlay '94), adapted
Required time: prep.: 5 min., chilling: 1 hour or over night, baking time: 10-15 min.
Ingredients (yield: ~70 pieces):
1 vanilla bean (the scraped-out seeds)
100g ground peeled almonds
80g superfine caster sugar
175g softened unsalted butter
2 egg yolk
vanilla sugar for coating (see note above)