Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Baking

I've been reading lots of posts about the yummy things everyone has been baking ahead of Christmas so I thought it was about time that I joined in.

My baking, as with many of my Christmas traditions, is influenced by my German background.  These days having access to the German founded Aldi means that it is pretty easy to get those favourite Christmas treats stollen (similar to Christmas cake but better) and lebkuchen (a sort of gingerbread but better).  However one thing that has to be homemade because it tastes so much better super fresh is Vanillekipferl.

It seems that every European country has a crescent shaped biscuit or pastry, many of which are nut based.  Vanillekipferl are said to have been created in the shape of the Turkish crescent to celebrate the victory of the Hungarian army over the Turkish in one of the many wars between the nations and they are traditionally made at Christmas, although you can find them in Viennese coffee shops year round.

One of the main ingredients is ground nuts, usually either hazelnuts or almonds.  I prefer hazelnuts, but that is simply a personal preference, ground almonds are delicious too.  I'm sure they would be tasty with any nut, so really you can use any ground nut you like.  Another ingredient is Vanillin Zucker - or vanilla sugar.  I like these little packets which I add to the icing sugar because it has a very strong flavour.  They are pretty easy to find in good supermarkets and delis but if you make your own vanilla sugar you can use it.  You just want your icing sugar to have a nice strong vanilla flavour.

The mixture is very crumbly, but by working balls of it in your hands you warm and soften the butter and it will come together so that you can pinch it into the crescent shape.  It is important to sprinkle the icing sugar mixture very thickly as soon as they are out of the oven and then leave them to cool.  This way the icing sugar sticks properly.  I always store them in the leftover icing sugar to really coat them well.

They are super tasty, if somewhat messy to eat- be careful to tap off the extra icing sugar.  Perfect with a cup of tea and great to have on hand for all those extra festive season visitors.

250g butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 cups ground nuts
2 1/2 cups plain flour

Approx 200g icing sugar
3 packets

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Blend in the nuts and flour.

Take a small handfull of mixture and work together till you can form it into a crescent shape.  You can lay them quite close on a baking tray as the size won't change while cooking.

Bake at 160oC for 20 minutes.  

Mix together the icing sugar and vanilla sugar.  Once out of the oven sieve the icing sugar mixture very thickly over the biscuits and leave to cool.  Enjoy!


  1. They do look delicious, it makes me wish I was capable of more than a common or garden variety chocolate chip cookie recipe. Alas, it's important to know your baking limits, and mine seem to be stuck at johnny cakes.

    1. They are super easy! The only tricky bit is that the mixture is super crumbly, but if you work it for a while it comes together and you sort of pinch it into shape. Well worth trying.

  2. I feel very privileged to get to read this insider information - I know so little about German baking and have never even tried half the products you mention. They hold a certain mystique to me. I'll have to try these biscuits and bring the mysterious into reality :-)

    1. I keep introducing S to all these new things forgetting that he won't have had them before. They seem very unexciting to me as I'm so used to them so it is great to be able to share them with someone for whom they are new.

  3. I love these biscuits too. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    SSG xxx

    1. No problem SSG. They are super delicious. We took a batch up to share with my parents this morning.