I had never, ever heard of Kipferls before. Then, in two weeks they came into my life twice! First, my friend Priscilla made some in the Culinary School Pastry Arts program she is enrolled in. I didn’t try one because I don’t like nuts. I dislike nuts so much that the name of the cookie didn’t even register. Then I read “The Book Thief” and Kipferls are important in one chapter. Since I was hosting book club this month and since the author had contributed his mother’s recipe for Kipferls to “The Book Club Cookbook” that my friend Kayte gave me for my birthday last year, I decided to make the cookie. I had to do a Google image search to see what they looked like! Then came the hunt for Hazelnut Flour. It’s out there. I found it at Sprouts. I was shocked by the price. I told the cashier that there must have been a mistake. She said she doubted it. I asked her to call for a manager for a price check. YEP. She was right. There was no mistake. It’s $16.95 for a 14 oz. packet of Hazelnut Flour (aka Hazelnut Meal). After creating such a fuss, and with my book club in less than seven hours, I bought the dangblasted expensive and pitifully small bag of Hazelnut Flour. BTW, you don’t have to buy this flour to make these cookies.
How to avoid using expensive Hazelnut Flour:
1. Make your own. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 6 ounces (1 1/4 cups) of shelled hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the hazelnuts are fragrant and brown. Remove the nuts from the oven and let cool slightly. While still warm, though, fold the nuts inside a clean kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove their skins. Place skinned nuts in a food processor fitted with the stainless-steel blade, and process until they are finely ground.
2. Substitute Almond Flour or Almond Meal for the Hazelnut Flour. Almond Meal is about one-third the price of Hazelnut flour. My German friend Karin said she always makes her Kipferls with Almond Meal, but her German relatives grind their own nuts.
To continue with my saga…Upon returning home with my $16.95 package of Hazelnut Flour, I got out the recipe and got started. No! Two vanilla beans? TWO? For 36 cookies? It is now clear to me that I am making World’s Most Expensive Cookie and I am thinking these better be good. (They were, thank goodness. So good I might have to make them again, and again, and again…)
This recipe is based upon Markus Zusak’s recipe for Kipferls as published in The Book Club Cookbook. I made some changes to the method and to the ingredients. Mr. Zusak’s mother mixed her dough by hand, I tried it for a bit, then resorted to my electric mixer. I split the use of the vanilla beans, putting one in the cookie and one in the powdered sugar, Mr. Zusak put both in the powdered sugar. I had to quadruple the amount of powdered sugar to cover all the cookies, and I covered the cookies with the powdered sugar while the cookies were still warm* so get a crackly, almost melted sugar coating on the cookies. (*Let the cookies cool a little, to firm up a bit. If you toss hot cookies in powdered sugar, the cookie will break.)
Crisp German Vanilla Hazelnut Butter Cookies
For the cookies
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cups Hazelnut Flour or Hazelnut Meal or alternative (see above)
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 14 tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) butter, at room temperature
- 1 whole vanilla bean, split in half, and insides scraped off with a knife. Discard the outside of the vanilla bean
For the vanilla sugar
- 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 whole vanilla bean, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces (different preparation than above)
- Make the vanilla sugar first. Place the powdered sugar with the chopped up vanilla bean in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until the vanilla bean has been incorporated into the powdered sugar, several 10 second bursts. Place a fine meshed sifter over a small bowl and sift the powdered sugar to remove the unblended pieces of vanilla bean. Pour vanilla sugar into a large Ziploc bag. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two baking sheets lightly with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
- Combine all purpose flour, hazelnut flour/meal, and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces and add to flour mixture. Scrape the inside out of the split vanilla bean and add to bowl. With an electric mixer, mix dough for 3-4 minutes or until a soft dough is formed.
- Pinch off small pieces of dough (1 T; 1/2 oz; 15 grams) and mold gently between your palms to form 3-inch ropes, thicker in the middle and tapered at the ends. This took a bit of doing to master. I rolled the dough to the length of my three middle fingers. I rolled the dough a bit more firmly with my ring and index finger so the ends of the dough would be thinner. Fashion each piece of rolled dough into a crescent shape and place onto the prepared trays, see picture above.
- Bake in preheated 350º oven for 15-20 minutes or just until the cookies are beginning to turn brown. Mr. Kusak says that once the Kipferls are brown, they are over cooked.
- Remove cookies from oven. Cool just slightly and then toss into the Ziploc bag with the vanilla sugar–tossing the cookies while they are still hot creates a slightly melted-on, and truly special coating. Toss cookies in vanilla sugar.
- Remove cookie to a cooling tray and repeat with remaining cookies and vanilla sugar. If you have vanilla sugar left over, you can re-coat the cookies.
- Let cool completely before eating. The cookies will crisp up as they cool.
Yield: About 3 ½ dozen cookies
I hope you enjoy the World’s Most Expensive Cookie! They ARE good and worth the cost and the effort. Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!
PS…I am making another batch of these cookies to take to a Tahoe retreat this weekend. One bag of that dangblasted expensive Hazelnut Flour does make three batches of these cookies…AND, Costco sells vanilla beans now. Note my friend Sally’s point, put the vanilla beans in the powdered sugar as soon as you get them. Once you are ready to make the cookies, remove the beans and use as outlined above. The benefit is that some of the essence of the vanilla beans will have soaked into the sugar…yummmmm.