Thursday, December 18, 2008
Christmas 2008: Weinachts Gebäck - Christmas Cookies
Unfathomably, not everyone loves old-school English Christmas treats, full of dried fruit and beef fat and a heavy dose of spice. (Why, people, why? They're so good!) For these people, Vanillakipferl are the way forward. I've been trying to incorporate more German traditions into my Christmas repertoire this year, and I am mad about these buttery, crumbly biscuits. They're a cross between shortbread and those compulsive Greek almond crescents, but with a finer crumb, and a good dose of vanilla. *Swoon*. They don't seem to be available in shops here, but luckily for all of us, they are ludicrously easy to make, and even easier to eat.
We put ours into a regular old tupperware container, and ate them scarily quickly over the next couple of days, snatching one or (three) out of the container whenever we walked past. However, I think for the echte experience, you should keep them in a special tin, and bring them out to eat with coffee and tea with the family.
The recipe, below, asks for vanilla sugar, AKA vanilla-flavoured icing sugar. Vanilla-flavoured icing sugar seems to be pretty widely available in Germany, but us Aussies would need to improvise. If you happen to have your own stash of vanilla castor sugar then I'd say to use that in the dough, but still add some vanilla extract or the seeds scraped out of a vanilla pod. These biscuits are so good I'm going to stick a vanilla pod into my container of icing sugar, especially for the purpose.
Vanillakipferl (Almond Crescents)
Recipe adapted from Culinaria: Germany
200g softened butter
100g ground almonds
75g vanilla sugar (if you don't have vanilla sugar, then castor or icing sugar plus a few drops of vanilla extract should do the trick)
The seeds from 1 vanilla pod (optional)
Vanilla-flavoured icing sugar for sprinkling
Mix together the flour, butter, almonds, vanilla sugar and vanilla seeds with an electric mixer or wooden spoon until smoothly combined. Form into a ball, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Form the dough into a roll. Cut slices from the roll and shape into small crescents.
Place on a lined baking sheet and bake at 175C for 15 minutes. Dredge the crescents with vanilla icing-sugar while still hot.