Learn how to make authentic Austrian vanilla crescent cookies (Vanillekipferl) as I was taught by my Austrian family. It's a simple recipe and you only need a few ingredients to make it. Because they literally melt in your mouth and taste buttery and delicious, they always disappear quickly! By the way, have you tried my Christmas Thumbprint Cookies yet?
Step-by-step video tutorial
Expert tips for success
- Divide the dough in half and roll the dough into two long, 1-inch (2.5cm) thick logs. Then wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. This makes it easier to shape them into crescents later on.
- Work in batches, one log at a time and keep the second dough in the fridge until you are done with the first one.
- Work quickly to avoid the dough from becoming too soft and sticky as this makes it very hard to shape them.
- Use as little flour as possible while shaping the crescents to avoid dry and crumbly cookies.
- The cookies spread a little during baking and don't keep the shape. That's totally normal and supposed to be like this. Just make sure to leave about 1.5-inch (4cm) space between them on the cookie sheet.
Best nuts for crescent cookies
Although you will find many recipes for crescent cookies made with ground almonds, I was taught to use ground walnuts from my Austrian family. This is because walnuts have a higher fat content than almonds, which adds more flavor and makes them soft and buttery. Vanilla crescents made from almond flour tend to be drier and crumblier and less aromatic.
Can I use vanilla extract instead of vanilla beans?
It's technically possible to use vanilla extract for the batter, but you can't use it for the powdered sugar that you sift over the cookies. In Austria, it's common to use the seeds of real Bourbon vanilla beans for these cookies, but you could use just ground vanilla powder instead. To answer your question, I only recommend real vanilla beans or ground vanilla powder for this recipe.
How long do they last
I recommend storing them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze them in freezer bags for up to 3 months. Thaw on the kitchen counter before serving.
More Christmas recipes to try
- Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti
- Linzer Cookies
- Eggnog Truffles
- Chocolate Truffles
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge
Austrian Vanillekipferl (Vanilla Crescent Cookies)
- 2 large egg yolks
- ½ cup ground walnuts
- ¼ cup granulated white sugar
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, cold
- 3 vanilla beans
- ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- Combine the egg yolks, ground walnuts, sugar, flour, butter and 2 vanilla beans* in a large bowl and mix using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment on medium-low speed until the dough comes together. Then knead by hand a few times.
- Divide the dough in half and form into two 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick logs. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F / 160°C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Remove one dough log from the fridge and slice it into 20 equal pieces. On a lightly-floured surface, roll the dough pieces quickly with your fingers into small logs (about ½-inch (1.3cm) in diameter) with a thicker center and thinner endings. Then shape into crescents. Place on one of the prepared baking sheets and bake for 13-15 minutes until the cookies look pale, puffed, and dry. While the first batch is baking, prepare the second dough. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
- Mix together the sifted powdered sugar and the beans from 1 vanilla pod* in a small bowl. Sift the vanilla sugar over the vanilla crescents on both sides. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
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