Cookies, Holidays, Plant Wonder Collective, Recipes

Vanillegipfeli: Swiss Vanilla Crescent Cookies

Vanillegipfeli, more commonly known as vanillekipferl, is a crescent shaped cookie made with ground almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts and dusted with vanilla sugar. It’s popular in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, & Slovakia and is traditionally made at Christmastime.

Making my mother’s Christmas cookies with my daughter has become a sweet holiday ritual. This year I wanted to try baking some traditional Swiss Christmas cookies too, as a nod to her father’s heritage. When I asked his mother for recipes, she directed me to a Swiss food blog, The Helvetic Kitchen, that features recipes for several classic Christmas cookies.

Vanillegipfeli are a “notoriously fickle cookie,” states Andie Pilot, writer of The Helvetic Kitchen blog. “Work the dough too much and they lose their tenderness, but too little and the dough falls apart in your hands,” she says. I did find the dough a bit tricky to work with, particularly when trying to form the crescents, but in the end, I was quite pleased with how the cookies turned out. I love that they look like waxing/waning moons and the combination of almond and vanilla is really quite delicious.

This recipe calls for vanilla sugar and vanilla extract. To learn how to make your own, check out last week’s post, Homemade Vanilla Sugar & Extract.


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, powdered
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups almond meal (ground almonds)
  • 2 cups flour
  • Vanilla sugar, to coat finished cookies

This recipe is adapted from The Helvetic Kitchen.


Powder the sugar in a blender. Then combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together until the mixture is nice and creamy. Stir in the vanilla extract. Then add the flours.

Divide the dough into three equal parts. Press each portion into a cylinder and wrap in plastic wrap. The dough won’t stick together very well. Be careful not overwork it— just sort of gently mush it together into rolls. Then refrigerate for at least an hour.

Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the dough and roll the pieces into little cylinders, then shape into crescents. The dough is very fragile and breaks easily, so be gentle.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges just turn slightly brown.

When the cookies are finished baking, let them cool a bit. Then coat liberally in vanilla sugar.

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