“From Vienna, city of music, laughter, and good food,” wrote Gourmet‘s longtime contributor Lillian Langseth-Christensen, “comes a cookie so delicate, so fragile, so meltingly good that it takes its place with the most famous of Vienna’s justly famous pastries.” She shared this recipe with her readers early on in Gourmet‘s history.
The vanilla-scented sugar can be used any time you want to enhance something with the delicate, enticing aroma and taste of vanilla. Try it sprinkled on fresh fruit or a simple cake.–Ruth Reichl
LC How Do You Say That In, Uh, Viennese? Note
So we were more than a little curious as to the proper name of this authentic Viennese Christmas cookie with such a soulful crunch, delicate texture, and dusting of confectioners’ sugar that’s as light as the fall’s first snowfall. Turns out it’s Vanillekipferl, although don’t ask us how to pronounce it. Or to say or type it three times fast.
Viennese Vanilla Crescents Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 1 H
- 4 H
- Makes about 8 dozen cookies
- For the vanilla confectioners' sugar
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and chopped
- For the crescents
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (5 ounces) skinned hazelnuts
- 3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- 2 cups vanilla confectioners’ sugar
- Make the vanilla confectioners’ sugar
- 1. Combine the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla bean in an airtight container and let stand, covered, for at least 24 hours. The vanilla sugar keeps indefinitely in an airtight container at room temperature. Sift before using.
- Make the crescents
- 2. Pulse together flour, 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, salt, and hazelnuts in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter and pulse just until a dough forms. Turn dough out and form into a ball, then flatten into a disk and wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.
- 3. Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
- 4. Roll level tablespoons of dough into balls, then roll each one on a smooth surface into a 3-inch length with slightly tapered ends, rolling ends lightly to make them narrow. The lengths should be about 1/3 inch thick. Bend each length to form crescents and arrange about 1 inch apart on baking sheets.
- 5. Bake in batches until edges are pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes per batch.
- 6. While each batch of crescents is baking, sift enough vanilla confectioners’ sugar onto a baking sheet with sides to cover bottom. Carefully transfer the warm baked crescents to the sugary baking sheet and sprinkle with additional vanilla confectioners’ sugar. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool completely.
The cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax or parchment paper, in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
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