Germans are crazy about baking Christmas cookies or, as we call it: Weihnachtsplätzchen. They come in all shapes and colours, tastes, and textures. Every year (Ok, maybe not this year), friends and families gather to bake, drink mulled wine and listen to Christmas songs together. People then pack the millions of cookies into small see-through cellophane bags decorated with golden stars and Santa Clauses. They wrap ruby red, silken bows around it and give it to friends and family. This means that everyone is left with many many gifted cookie bags, and usually no one can even eat that much, so people keep nibbling on even after Christmas.
1. Saffron & Pistachio Half Moons
One type of Christmas cookies people always make and everyone loves are Vanillekipferl. Little half-moons made from a dough with flour, ground almonds and vanilla. They’re then dusted with a mix of powdered sugar and more vanilla. Slightly crumbly, very aromatic, and not too sweet, they’ve been on my favourites list for some time, also. This year, though, I wanted to give them a little twist. As I’m living in Sweden and Swedes love everything with saffron during Christmas time, I wanted to include saffron. What goes well with saffron? Pistachio! So I transformed the Vanille Kipferl into Saffron & Pistachio Vanilla Half Moons. Believe me; they’re as delicious as they sound.
A few tips before you start: 1. Let the dough rest a bit in the fridge before shaping. The butter will set, which will help you shape them and reach a nicer result when baking. 2. Once baked, don’t move or touch the half-moons. They’re soft and will break! Let them cool down first. 3. When you take the half-moons from the oven, wait for 2-3 minutes before dusting the cookies. The sugar should stick to them but shouldn’t melt.
- 250g flour
- 210g butter (soft)
- 80g sugar
- 40g ground almonds
- 60g ground pistachios
- A pinch of salt
- The pulp of 1 vanilla bean
- 0.5g saffron
- For finishing off:
- 150g powdered sugar
- 2 packages vanilla sugar
Take 1 tbsp of the sugar and grind with the saffron in a mortar. Mix flour, almonds, pistachios, sugar, saffron sugar, salt, vanilla pulp, and butter to a smooth dough, wrap in clingfilm, and refrigerate for 1h.
Heat oven to 190C. Divide dough into 10-12g or tbsp big pieces. Roll into a small sausage with pointy ends and form into a half-moon. Put onto a lined baking tray. Bake for 9 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Mix powdered sugar with vanilla sugar and dust the half moons with it while still warm. Will keep well in an airtight container for around 3 weeks.