emigrant · food

Vanilla Crescents – Our Favourite Christmas Biscuit

Advent is almost at an end, meaning Christmas is almost upon us. Since moving to Germany almost fifteen years ago I have come to love Advent, primarily due to the endless traditions in Advent. There’s the feast of St. Nicholas when children’s boots are filled with chocolate, nuts and fruit. There’s the baking of Fruchtebrot, Plaetzchen and Linzertorte, all of which need to be left a while for their flavour to develop. Then there’s the Christmas markets with every variation of mulled wine as well as traditional German foods and handmade gifts.


The tradition that has a firm place in our household is the baking of Plaetzchen, a selection of small buttery biscuits, baked in Advent. Usually we bake between 200 and 500 of them in early Advent, using four or more types of dough. This year, due to work and other commitments, we only made 160 biscuits. Shame on us. Plaetzchen go perfectly with a cuppa or a mug of  steaming mulled wine. We just ate the last of them with a cuppa after dinner this evening.


Our absolute favourite Christmas biscuit is a crumbly, almondy delight called Vanillekipferl, vanilla crescents. We can’t get enough of them. I must admit that when my husband first asked me to bake these, his childhood favourite, I didn’t see the attraction. They looked so dry and cloying. The key though is the ground almonds.  And don’t for a second consider not dusting them with icing sugar. That would be criminal.

The quantities given here make about 60 crescents:

280g plain flour
70g sugar
1/2 dsp vanilla sugar
100g ground almonds
210g butter or margarine, at room temperature and chopped into chunks

For dusting:
1/2 dsp vanilla sugar
3 dsps icing sugar

Combine all the ingredients, either by hand or with a mixer, into a firm but slightly crumbly dough. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and place in the fridge for an hour or longer. You can make the dough a day or two in advance of baking if you like. Just keep it well wrapped and in the fridge.
Pre-heat the oven to 175°C. Line a couple of baking trays with baking parchment.
 Remove the dough from the fridge and take off the cling film. Quarter the dough, then roll each quarter into an oblong. Cut into 15 slices of equal size then roll each slice between your palms to form a small sausage shape with pointed ends. Curl each into a C-shape, hence the name vanilla crescent, and place onto the baking tray.


While the crescents are in the oven, mix the icing sugar and vanilla sugar in a freezer bag or deep bowl. Once the biscuits are baked, carefully toss the still hot biscuits in the sugar. Place them onto a wire tray and leave to cool completely before eating or storing in a biscuit tin.




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