After many years of not making her much loved kipfel, my mother started baking them again a few weeks ago. I had completely forgotten how delightfully buttery these crescent shaped sweets are, which she called kifel. I remember helping her to make them in my teenage years. I think she got the recipe from one of her work colleagues – she doesn’t even remember – it must have been some time ago as her hand written recipe (in a mixture of Italian and English) requires “ounces” of butter, and Australia went metric some 25 to 30 years ago.
These biscuits/cookies are Austrian and variants of these are served at Christmas in many European countries. Other kipfel recipes that I have found all require the addition of an egg or egg yolk and/or sour cream (instead of all that butter!) and almonds rather than hazelnuts. However I love the buttery goodness of these much better – they really do melt in your mouth – and the nuttiness of the hazelnuts is delicious. Feel free to substitute almond meal for the hazelnuts if that is all you have – they are still very nice! Kipfel are perfect with a cup of strong coffee in the afternoon – see if you can eat just one!
makes 28 to 30 kipfel
250g butter, cut into cubes and softened in microwave oven
45g tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
350g plain flour
100g hazelnut meal
icing sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Mix together the butter, sugar, flour and vanilla with your finger tips. A thick dough will form that will become softer when handled. You might need to put the ball of dough in the fridge for 10 minutes or so before proceeding. Shape the dough into little logs 7 to 8 cm long (mine weighed about 25g each) and then shape them into crescents. You can work with a section of dough at a time, keep the rest in the fridge and take it out as you need it. Place on a lined baking tray. You can place them quite close together as they do not spread much.
Bake for 20 minutes and place on a wire cooling rack to cool. Dust the kipfel with icing sugar before they cool completely. They are quite delicate so need to be handled carefully as they are prone to breaking across the middle. Store with baking paper between laters of kipfel in a sealed container to maintain freshness and minimize breakage (they will last at least a week).