Vanillekipferl, or vanilla crescent kipferl cookies, are a popular Christmas cookie in Germany, Austria, and many other European countries. They have a flavor very close to a butter cookie or shortbread, with the addition of ground almonds and vanilla sugar. A good dusting with confectioners’ and vanilla sugar sweetens the taste even more. Not only are these cookies delicious, but they are pretty! They make a nice addition to any holiday table.
I had heard how some people find making this kipferl dough a little difficult. Maybe it was from working with cold butter and pie crusts, but I didn’t find it that challenging. You do need to keep the dough cold when you are not working with it. When you initially make the dough it is crumbly and you’ll think it isn’t going to come together. Just keep working with it and it does become a nice cookie dough. It falls apart from time to time when you are rolling it into ropes, but you just mush it back together and keep going!
Chill the dough, bring half of it out to work with and pop the other half back into the refrigerator. When you first make the dough, you have to make sure the vegan butter is very cold. I put mine in the freezer for five minutes or so before cutting it into the other ingredients. The idea is to keep the butter hard, so that it makes a crumbly texture when cut into the flour.
Before making the dough, you’ll need to grind some almonds. They can be ground in a food processor, blender, or a personal high speed blender. You want to blend them until they are crumbly, but not to the point where they are soft like a nut butter. You will also need to sift the powdered sugar. It’s so worth it to sift the sugar, to remove all clumps, even the smallest ones. You’ll also need vanilla sugar for this recipe. If you don’t have vanilla sugar on hand, it’s so easy to make. You can find instructions here.
My method for cutting and shaping the dough is to first shape the dough into a long cylinder before refrigerating it. I also put the dough into the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes before working with it. Then I cut two to three slices from the cold dough, about 1/2-inch wide. I roll each slice of dough into a “snake” or rope of dough, then cut that rope into 2-inch sections. Each section is then shaped into a crescent cookie. Once I’ve cut the slices from the dough, before rolling it into ropes, I place the rest of the dough (that I won’t be working with) back into the fridge.
I found a difference in baking time from using the top rack versus the middle rack of my oven. These cookies do very well on the top rack and will bake quicker.
You don’t want to brown these kipferl on top. They should just begin to brown around the bottom edges, then be removed from the oven. Let cool completely before rolling them in or dusting them with the sugar. I also like to make a chocolate glaze from melted vegan chocolate chips and drizzle that over the cookies. I baked 40 cookies using this recipe.