DOUBLE CHILL AHEAD ALERT
The smell of Christmas fills your kitchen while these vanillekipferl wonders bake. Vanilla, lemon zest, cardamom, matcha. This recipe brings our cookie box run to an elegant, must try end.
Kipferl means crescent, or moon, and vanilla is just one of many types of kipferl you’ll find gracing patisseries in Vienna where they originate, and throughout eastern Europe where their Christmas tradition has spread.
Careful tho, there are lots of recipes out there for these little treasures and not all of them know what they are talking about, as we discovered to our sunken kipferl shame.
There’s a bit of a knack to kipferl and it’s my bad that we’ve saved the most involved bake til last. They are nonetheless really easy, much easier than I have previously believed them to be before I tried making them!
The knack, it transpires after more research and testing, is that the ingredients must be super cold going into the mix. So there’s a double lot of chilling time in getting the flour, almonds etc cold before starting.
But it is necessary, and ohh so worth it. Such cute and delicately flavoured deliciousness.
And the vanilla sugar is all important – ain’t no vanillekipferl without copious dustings vanilla sugar. If you can’t get hold of any, which in the UK may well be so, you can make it. See notes below.
30 mins + 2½ hrs chilling | makes 80 | easy times
200g unsalted butter, cold
250g plain flour, chilled in freezer 10-15 mins
2 egg yolks, chilled
1 tbsp milk, chilled
½ vanilla pod, pulp
3 cardomom pods, crush, discard pods, crush seeds
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
100g ground almonds, chilled in freezer
70g icing sugar (aka powdered, confectioner’s), chilled as above
2 tsp matcha powder
For the sugar coating (after baking):
75g icing sugar
2 sachets vanilla sugar or homemade vanilla sugar
If making your own vanilla sugar start there, and it can infuse while you’re making and chilling the dough and baking the biscuits – about 3hrs, give it more time if you can, it should be a day.
Cube the butter then pop in the freezer to keep cold while you weight out the rest of the ingredients and chill them also, for about 10 -15mins.
Put flour and butter in a food processor and pulse a couple of times until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In batches if needed.
In a mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, milk, vanilla pulp, cardamom and zest til just combined.
Add butter crumbs, almonds, sugar, matcha and salt to the egg and stir to combine into a dough, then knead with your hands for about 30 seconds. Cling the dough ball and chill in the fridge for 2hrs.
Oven to 180°c / gas 4 and line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Take egg-sized pieces of dough and roll them with your hands into logs about the thickness of your finger. Cut the logs in 3cm long pieces. Roll out every piece to about 5-6cm long and shape into a crescent. Taper the ends slightly but not too much as they will brown first.
Arrange the shaped crescents on the trays at least 3cm apart. Bake in the centre of the oven for 7-8 mins until very lightly coloured at their tips.
Remove from the oven and leave them on the trays to cool for one minute before transferring them very carefully with a spatula onto a plate of icing sugar to coat them all over. They do break easily if you hold them wrong but they also need to be warm to coat or the sugar won’t stick.
Transfer them to a serving plate a dust lightly with matcha powder and lastly, more generously with vanilla sugar.
- If you know you will have to bake in batches, it is worth dividing the dough into four and chilling the others while you roll out and bake the first quarter
- Handle the dough as little as possible to keep it as cold as possible
- Handle the kipferls as little as possible, at best your fingers will leave prints in the sugar, at worst they will break. You can always retouch the dusting, but you’ll just have to eat the broken ones!
- To make your own vanilla sugar, spilt a vanilla pod lengthways and push it into 100g of caster sugar in an air tight jar. Leave it for as long as you can, it should be a whole day infusing. Gently shake the jar occasionally to so the pod can release some seeds into the sugar. You can refill the jar a couple of times with more sugar, after that the vanilla will no longer continue to impart flavour
- Having messed up first time round and learnt in the doing, we took influence from a few different sources, including elements of the first recipe tried. Our approach above is now triple tested and approved by us. As non-natives to kipferl, we found Lil Vienna’s recipe the most helpful and informative. And as those behind Lil’ Vienna are Austrian’s living in Boston, we’re comfy in the knowledge it’s authentic too