Grandma’s Vanilla Crescents – a Traditional Family Recipe

Österr FlaggeIMG_2265cutDecember has arrived! Christmas is right around the corner and finally we can start our Christmas baking. The oven feels nice and warm as it heats up and only waits for us to give it some work. The smell of cinnamon, ginger and vanilla fills the air and one can’t help but feel … jolly. Suddenly, the seventh repetition of “Last Christmas” blarring from the radio doesn’t bother you anymore and the red sweater with the reindeers on it seems like a perfectly suitable item of clothing. And when the first snowflakes fall and magically silence the noise of the city and you are holding a steaming cup of hot cocoa in your hands, the only thing missing are the perfect homemade Vanilla Crescents that your grandma used to bake.

I cannot imagine a single Christmas without my grandma’s tradiditional Vanilla Crescents that are so moist and yet crumbly they simply melt in your mouth. To me, they belong to Christmas just like the tree and the lights and the punch and well, the presents.

Or would you rather prefer some Vanilla Coconut Truffles or Gingerbread Cookies or Coconut Macarons or Buttered Bread Cookies or Chocolate Cornflakes Cookies?

Let’s start baking!

For the dough (makes 800g of Vanilla Crescents) you will need:

  • 28dkg (=280g) cake flourIMG_2730e
  • 10dkg (=100g) grated walnuts (NO hazelnuts, almonds)
  • 10dkg (=100g) powdered sugar
  • 1 pkg vanilla sugar
  • 21dkg (210g) butter/margarine (Thea), cold
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 egg yolks

To all, who might find the list of ingredients a bit odd, must be said that this recipe is an old, traditional family recipe and my grandma and great grandmother used to state all ingredients in decagram (dkg, dag). I did include the conversion to grams (times 10) in brackets, because I find that nowadays decagram is rather unusual. And even though I prefer butter, my grandma always, Always, ALWAYS used ‘Thea’-margarine for her Vanilla Crescents and since this is her recipe, I will stick to it. The same goes for the choice of nuts, because walnuts make the Vanille Crescents especially moist.

Once you have all the ingredients and equipment ready and your working surface is clean and dry, you are good to go!

Pour your flour, grated nuts, powdered sugar and vanilla sugar onto your working surface and blend using a dough scraper. Sprinkle the cold butter in small pieces over your mound of flour and work it all together. Quickly rub the butter and flour between your palms and press with your fingers before the dough becomes to warm. In the end, you will have a mound of butter-flour-crumbs.

Add the pinch of salt and the 2 egg yolks (use the egg whites to make meringue or royal icing to decorate eg gingerbread men, or store it in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 12 months). Knead to form a nice and smooth ball of dough.

Intermix the dry ingredients – add butter – produce crumbs – add egg yolks&salt – Done!

The dough is made fast and easily and has to rest for an hour in a cool room or if necessary in the fridge.

Now it is time to form your dough into a crescent shape per hand. Do not be tempted to use moulds or the like. I know that moulds save time and I know that moulds make your crescents look uniform, BUT the moulds prevent even spreading and your Vanille Crescents will come out hard as a stone. Believe me, the little extra effort is so worth it!!! Try both and you will taste the differenece.

At this point, do not forget to preheat your oven to 350°Fahrenheit/180°Celsius air circulation (390°Fahrenheit/200°Celsius bottom and top heat – only one baking tray at a time)! Also, prepare the sugar mixture (see below) to roll and coat your Vanilla Crescents with.

Cut off 1/3 of your dough ball and store the rest in the fridge. Form two long and even strings of dough (2cm diameter) and cut them into ca. 1cm pieces – this ensures that your Vanilla Crescents are the same size and bake evenly. Now roll every 1cm piece on the working surface to thin it out, then thin out only the ends by further rolling just those a little and bring it into a crescent shape. Should your dough be very sticky (usually when the dough gets too warm), dust your working surface with a bit powdered sugar.IMG_2232Place the Vanilla Crescents on a baking tray lined with parchment paper leaving little gaps between them (they do not grow much). As soon as the first baking tray is filled, it can be put into the oven. Keep a very close eye on it for they burn easily. The Vanilla Crescents should brown only slightly and take about 12 minutes.IMG_2251

As soon a the second baking tray is filled, it can also go into the oven. Once the first round of Vanilla Crescents is ready, take them out of the oven and immediately roll them in the sugar mixture (see below) to coat them. Be gentle or they will break! Put them on a serving plate and allow to cool.IMG_2256Continue shaping, baking and coating until you have used up all the dough and your serving platter is full of delicious Vanilla Crescents. Yum!

For the sugar mixture you will need:IMG_2221e

  • 300g powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1pkg vanilla sugar

Mix powdered sugar and vanilla sugar in a big plate and roll the Vanilla Crescents right out of the oven in the mixture to completely coat them in it. Be careful, because right out of the oven, they will be hot. As soon as the Vanilla Crescents have cooled, the mixture won’t stick to them anymore, so hurry!

Lastly, sift part of the remaining sugar mixture over your Vanilla Crescents mountain and store the rest for later use.

And don’t forget to check out my Vanilla Coconut Truffles , Gingerbread Cookies , Coconut Macarons , Buttered Bread Cookies and Chocolate Cornflakes Cookies?

Have a baketastic baking day,

Your Backdirndlvanillekipferln 2013


9 thoughts on “Grandma’s Vanilla Crescents – a Traditional Family Recipe

  1. They look a-ma-zing! I haven’t made mine yet, simply because they will be eaten within hours by my greedy family 😉 Butter and almonds, though, according to my granny …


    1. Thank you so much!
      I totally see your point – the ones I made are alreday almost gone by now. 😯 I am going to make some more this weekend – double batch! 😀

      Have a baketastic baking day,
      Your Backdirndl


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