Viennese Vanilla Crescent Cookies

Viennese vanilla crescent cookies are a tradition in Austria. They’re made with hazelnuts and shaped like a half-moon and dusted with confectioners’ sugar. One nibble and we think you’ll understand why they’re a classic.

A pile of crescent-shaped cookies on a platter with greenery and Christmas ornaments on the side

These Viennese vanilla crescent cookies are traditional Christmas cookies in Austria. As Gourmet magazine wrote, “From Vienna, city of music, laughter, and good food 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.” We’re incredibly taken by these cookies and their soulful crunch, delicate texture, and dusting of confectioners’ sugar that’s as light as fall’s first snowfall. We were also more than a little curious as to their proper name. Turns out it’s Vanillekipferl, although don’t ask us how to pronounce it. Or how to say it three times fast. Especially not when we’re distracted with our mouths full of these little lovelies. Originally published October 1, 2006.Renee Schettler Rossi

Viennese Vanilla Crescent Cookies

  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H
  • 4 H
  • Makes about 4 dozen cookies
5/5 - 3 reviews
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Ingredients

  • For the vanilla confectioners' sugar (for coating)
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and chopped
  • For the crescents
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup skinned hazelnuts (5 oz)
  • 3 sticks cold unsalted butter (12 oz), cut into 24 pieces

Directions

  • 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 and bake the Viennese vanilla crescent cookies
  • 2. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, salt, and hazelnuts until the nuts are finely ground. Add the butter and pulse just until a dough forms. Turn the dough onto your work surface and and gently form it into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. The dough may be slightly stiff and crumbly. Wrap it in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.
  • 3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.
  • 4. Roll level tablespoons of dough (18 grams) into balls. Then roll each ball on a smooth surface into a 3-inch log with slightly tapered ends. Bend each log to form crescents and arrange about 1 inch apart on baking sheets. If you have hot hands, occasionally cup a few ice cubes in your palm. It really helps.
  • 5. Bake in batches until the edges are pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.
  • Coat the Viennese vanilla crescent cookies
  • 6. While the crescents are baking, sift enough Vanilla Confectioners’ Sugar onto a rimmed baking sheet to cover the bottom. Carefully transfer the slightly cooled baked crescent cookies to the sugared baking sheet and sprinkle with enough Vanilla Confectioners’ Sugar to coat completely. Transfer the crescents to wire 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.

Recipe Testers Reviews

These are very delicate cookies that are easy to make. They are buttery, light and truly "melt in your mouth." I have made these before using other recipes but the vanilla sugar adds flavor that cookies made from other recipes do not have. They are similar but not nearly this good.

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Comments

  1. I am confused as to how much butter I use…is it 12 oz total or three 12 oz sticks of butter? Help!

  2. Let me say up front: I’m not a fiddly cookie kind of guy. I like sturdy, hardy doughs–like David’s chocolate chip cookies. You can throw those dough balls against the wall and they’d survive. But I made these because my family was hankering for a traditional Christmas cookie.

    I didn’t have hazelnuts on hand so I looked up the amount of fat in pecans, which I did have, and it was the same as hazelnuts. Pecans it was. The dough came together easily. I think I might have overprocessed it a bit, but an overnight lock up in the fridge took care of that.

    The dough logs kept softening in my hands so I took the advice above and cupped ice cubes. It helped immensely. It took me 15 minutes for the cookies to bake.

    When i grabbed a hot cookie fresh from the oven, I was disheartened to watch it crumble into dust. (Well, I was pissed, if you want to know the truth.) My husband said to stop being impatient and to let the cookies cool. Once cooled, they were sturdier, for sure–but sturdier is a relative term here. They are definitely delicate.

    I found I had better luck coating the cookies with sugar when they were barely warm. When they were really warm, the sugar seemed to dissolve.

    While these were good the day they were made, they were much better the next morning with tea for breakfast. They truly do melt in your mouth.

    1. Tuck, lovely to hear that you appreciate these classic Christmas cookies as much as we do! (And not surprising to hear that you, like so many of us, are also a fan of David’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies–those are also definitely keepers!) Appreciate you sharing your experience with these, they can be a little tricky as the dough is a touch drier than many cookie doughs and, as you experienced, the resulting cookies are a touch more delicate. And that lovely, delicate, ever-so-light texture and subtly sweet, nutty taste is exactly why we don’t mind fussing with the dough. Again, we’re so pleased to hear you like these and look forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next! Thanks for your time. Wishing you and yours all the magic of the season…

  3. Help! Just mixed up the dough for this (to bake tomorrow) – is the dough supposed to be really crumbly? I weighed everything exactly as written, used cold butter etc., and it was very hard to gather it up in a ball without it breaking apart. But, I wrapped it up tight as I could and stuck it in the frig. I even had exactly 5 oz. of beautiful hazelnuts from Italy! I’m really worried about it being too dry and crumbly when I take off the plastic wrap!

    1. Hi WendyK, did you measure the flour as well? It sounds like you might need a bit more moisture in your dough. If it is still crumbly tomorrow, try giving it a spritz of cold water, knead and see if the dough comes together.

  4. Thank you! I have been searching for a recipe for these cookies for years!! I’m excited to make (and eat) them. Thanks again and have a wonderful Christmas!

    1. You’re so very welcome, VJ! We know the frustration at not finding a recipe you desperately want…and we know the elation, too, upon finally happening upon it! We’re all THRILLED that this recipe is such a welcome addition to your repertoire. Hope you enjoy. Wishing you and yours all the magic of the season…

  5. I’ve just made the dough for these cookies tonight, and they’re sitting in the fridge ready to be baked off tomorrow. I followed your instructions and nicely wrapped them up. I took took a little piece to try it and they are not sweet at all.

    In your directions no mention is made about adding the 2 cups of confectioners. I’m assuming it’s an error that was omitted.

    I made the confectioners vanilla sugar, but that’s for rolling the cookies in after they are baked. I’m thinking of breaking clumps of dough off and mixing that with the 2 cups of confectioners sugar back in the food processor. Do you think that will work. With all the butter in there l’m not worried about a tough overworked dough. I have to say even without the sugar in the dough it still tasted good.

    1. Branka, I’m going to have to ask you to trust me on this. You made the Vanilla Confectioners’ Sugar first. And, yes, that is what the cookies are rolled in. The 2 cups of sugar listed under the dough ingredients, is the Vanilla Confectioners’ Sugar you already made. The cookies are buttery and delicious and get their sweetness from the coating of sugar. This a classic, beloved cookie! I think adding the sugar to the dough would be a mistake and make the cookies very crumbly. Please let me know what you think when you’ve made them.

      1. Well, you are so right David. I baked them off early this morning and tasted one, and it’s perfect. I was just a bit confused when l saw the 2 cups of confectioners sugar listed in with the ingredients.

        I grew up in a European household and never tasted a chocolate chip or oatmeal cookie till was a teenager. Baking was a very elaborate time-consuming affair, which thankfully l learned from my mom.

        I love your website and all your recipes! I’ve tried various ones and none have disappointed. Thank you very much for putting so much time and effort into doing this for us.

        1. Branka, I’m delighted you didn’t go off freelancing and add the sugar to the already-mixed dough. And I’m delighted you enjoyed the cookies. I took another look at the recipe and, based on your comments, went in and rewrote the directions to make them clearer. Please tell me if I succeeded. And thank you for the kind words. I wish you and yours a happy holiday season!

  6. We have been making these forever.

    Did you know that these cookies and other baking came about as a protest product. In the case of these, they where baked in this shape as a protest against the Ottoman invaders who used the crescent as one of their national symbols!

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