4 December 2011

Vanilla crescents - 'Vanillekipferl'

Vanillekipferl are another classic Christmas biscuit recipe. The recipe is simple, but they taste fantastic. Buttery, crumbly, and melt-in-the-mouth. From all Christmas biscuits, I think, these are at least in my top three. The good thing is that they don’t require any special ingredients or equipment. A bit of time, flour, butter, sugar, vanilla, a few nuts, and Bob’s your uncle.

The only things worth mentioning are 1) I recommend making relatively small crescents. They melt slightly and increase their size a little bit in the oven. Moreover, they just look nicer if they are dainty and delicate. In order to get uniform shapes and sizes I roll the pastry into a sausage shape and cut off equal-sized bits. I then shape them into little crescents. 2) It is crucial to get the timing right. The vanilla crescents should get a slightly golden tinge at most and they should not go brown. There is nothing worse than half-burned Christmas biscuits.

The recipe is enough for a large tin of vanilla crescents:

550g flour
180 g sugar
400 g butter, cold and cut into small pieces
200 g blanched and ground hazelnuts or almonds (hazelnuts taste best, in my view)
Seeds of one vanilla pod

To decorate: a mixture of caster sugar and icing sugar in a bowl or on a plate. You can add some vanilla sugar to the mix, but I am not keen on the artificial flavour of most shop-bought vanilla sugar.

Combine all ingredients and carefully knead until you have a ball of pastry. Leave to rest in the fridge for 2 hours. Shape crescents (see above), place on a baking sheet covered in baking paper and bake at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes. If it is very hot in the kitchen it is helpful to firm them up in the fridge (or outside, if it is chilly) for another 15 minutes or so before you put them in the oven. Baking times can vary depending on the size of the crescents and on the temperature in your oven. Make sure the biscuits do not turn brown.

Remove from the oven and leave to firm up for a few minutes. Dip the crescents in the sugar mixture while they are still warm. They are very delicate when fresh, so a bit of caution is required. Leave to cool and store in a tin. 

PS: I ended up with a small tub full of broken crescents, which I put in the freezer and will use in a 'vanilla crescent parfait' for a Christmassy dessert.

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