It’s hot here today. Well, it didn’t actually cool down. I checked how the temperature changed overnight and it did get down to a low of 20°C at midnight and was back up at 30°C at 1am! This is not exactly ideal weather to be baking biscuits. I baked a couple of types a week ago and have been meaning to share the recipe with you on Sunday, the third advent. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and am catching up now.
I normally bake Vanilla Crescents (Vanillekipferl) and Lemon Shortbread in Christmas shapes (Ausstecherli), at the same time as my Macaroons (either walnut/almond or coconut). There are two reasons: firstly, both the Vanillekipferl and Lemon Shortbread need egg yolk and the Macaroons need the white. So they work well together and it’s easy enough to keep either yolks or whites in the fridge for a couple of days between baking. Secondly, Vanillekipferl are right up there with my favourite Christmas biscuits and fill the house with an unmistakable vanilla Christmas aroma. And the Lemon Shortbread is probably the one biscuit that I’ve baked from a very early age. So it cannot be missing on the biscuit plate on Christmas eve.
For the Vanilla Crescents you will need:
- 300g flour (I use organic unbleached white bakers flour)
- 125g sugar (I used Rapadura this time)
- 2tsp of vanilla essence (you can learn how to make your own here)
- 3 yolks
- 125g ground almonds (blanched or not doesn’t really matter)
- 250g butter (at room temperature)
- icing sugar and vanilla sugar for dusting (you can learn how to make your own here)
Place butter, sugar and your vanilla essence into the mixing bowl and combine until creamy. You will notice that the colour lightens after a little while.
Now add the yolk and mix until well combined.
Finally, add the flour and the almond meal.
The dough will have a rather soft texture and will need to be refrigerated before baking. To make the shaping of the crescents easier, form 3 rolls out of the soft dough now. Mine are normally about 4-5cm in diameter. I place them on a board, cover in cling wrap and place in the fridge for at least one hour.
Once cool and hardened, I take them out, cut small slices of the rolls and form the crescents. This will take a bit of practise, but you can follow these instructions:
- form a small ball
- roll it into into a small ‘sausage’ in your hand or on the bench
- make the ends slightly pointy and
- bend to a crescent shape
You can decide how big or small you’d like your biscuits to be. Of course if you make them tiny, it will take a good amount of time.
Place them on a prepared baking tray with some baking paper and 1-2cms apart. They do increase in size a bit in the oven.
In Australia, especially on warm days, I now place the tray with the prepared crescents back into the fridge for about 10 minutes. I then bake them at 190 degrees for about 10 minutes, fan forced. You might need to experiment with your oven and its temperature to see if they need a little more or less time.
When the crescents are ready, they will have slightly browned (golden brown) and are still soft when warm. That is perfectly fine, and they will harden when cooling down.
Immediately when out of the oven, grab your icing sugar and vanilla sugar, mix them well, and dust the crescents with this mix. I can’t tell you how much you will need exactly, as it depends on how you like them. I find the dusting is easiest if you just put the icing sugar mix into a small strainer and with a teaspoon grind the icing mixture through the sieve.
Once completely cooled, store your Vanillekipferl in a biscuit tin that is airtight. They should last you until Christmas – unless of course you eat them all before then. In which case, just bake another batch!
I will also post the recipe for the Lemon Shortbread soon. Let me know how you go with these and if you have any follow up questions regarding the ingredients, just let me know!