Sunday, December 11, 2016

Austrian Christmas Cookies (Vanillekipferl)

These Christmas cookies, called Vanillekipferl, are a treat and melt on your tongue! Our family passed down this recipe through generations but we are not secretive about it, because everyone should be able enjoy these little pieces of heaven.

Vanillekipferl are the most traditional Christmas cookies in Austria and, according to Wikipedia, apparently they are popular in Germany and the Bohemian part of Czech Republic as well. I always think that some dish I am cooking or baking is super-Austrian, but when I google it I find out it is also traditional for Czech Republic or Germany or Hungary… well but Hungary and Czech Republic were part of Austria for a time, so I guess it still counts (and I’m pretty sure the Germans just copied all our good stuff haha).
 The main reason why these cookies are so good is that there is lots and lots of butter in it! So if you are vegan, those are not for you. I honestly never tried it with margarine and I doubt that it would be as great, however, if somebody wants to try it, let me know how it turns out!

I bought a Bosch stand mixer a while ago because my hand mixer was defeated by the yeast dough when I was making divine bagels by Kamran Siddiqi (bagel recipe). Since the Vanillekipferl-dough can be a bit of a pain, this year I put all the ingredients in the stand mixer and let it do all the work. This way the butter gets distributed evenly, however, you still have to press it together by hand to get it to become cookie dough; otherwise you only have a crumbly mess. Of course you can mix the ingredients and knead them together by hand – but be prepared: You will check the measurements of the ingredients twice and will look at least three times if you did not forget anything, like an egg. No you didn’t! It may seem like this will never become dough as shapeable as Play Doh but it will! Just be patient!
 The shaping of the cookies is a bit tricky as you need a very light touch! If the dough gets too warm because of your body heat, your strings will fray. That is why you should only ever cut off a piece to form the cookies while keeping the rest in the fridge.
 I have a lot of fond memories baking these Vanillekipferl with my mom and siblings. The shape of the cookies is easy and ideal for baking with kids. Nonetheless, because of the fraying of the dough if it gets too warm be prepared to shape most of the cookies yourself. Kids will probably only contribute a few pieces. By the way, you will not get a stomach ache if you eat the raw cookie dough. I suspect our mom told us this, so we would not eat it all raw before the cookies ever went into the oven! 

Prep Time:   Resting Time:
10 minutes | 20-30 minutes
   Cookie Shaping:                Baking Time:
       20 minutes           |          12-15 minutes
Total Time:
62-75 minutes
Author: Martina | Made in Austria
Cuisine: Austrian
Servings: approx. 3 cookie sheets
Recipe type: Dessert

·   2 cups all-purpose flour
·   almost 2 sticks of unsalted butter (just cut away a finger-width slice of one stick)
·    3.5 Oz. cups ground almonds (approx. 1/3 of a 10-11 Oz. package)
·   ½ cup of confectioner’s sugar

·   for coating: additional confectioner’s sugar, vanilla sugar

·   250 grams all-purpose flour
·   210 grams of unsalted butter
·   100 grams ground almonds
·   70 grams confectioner’s sugar

·   for coating: confectioner’s sugar, vanilla sugar

1.   Cut the butter into small pieces, mix all ingredients (except for the coating) and knead until you have smooth dough. Be patient – yes this will result in smooth dough.

2.   Wrap the dough in kitchen foil and let it rest in the fridge for at least 20-30 minutes. Prepare a cookie sheet with baking paper and preheat oven to 360 °F/180 °C.

3.   Take the dough out of the fridge, cut off a slice and put the rest of the dough back in the fridge. Knead the dough shortly until it is slightly more pliable, but not too long! Cut away smaller pieces and roll them quickly into strings, about as thick and as long as your little finger. Shape the strings into crescent moons and place them on the cookie sheet. You need to be quick and have a light touch or otherwise the dough will kind of fray if it gets to warm. Do not place the cookies to close to one another on the cookie sheet, they will get bigger in the oven!

4.   Bake the Vanillekipferl in the oven for 12-15 minutes until they are slightly browned. In the meantime mix some confectioner’s sugar (about a handful) and a package of vanilla sugar.

5.   Take the cookies out of the oven and let them rest for a minute. Then place them, while they are still hot, in the sugar mix and flip them carefully with your fingers until they are coated in sugar (the cookies, but your fingertips will get coated too). Put the finished cookies on a plate until they are cooled down. Add confectioner’s sugar to the mix if you need more and after a while add another package of vanilla sugar.

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