Vanillekipferln – Europe’s Favorite Christmas Cookies

What is Christmas without Christmas pastries? Vanillekipferln are one of the most eaten in Europe. And very easy to make.

A real surprise for me was to learn that they originally were made with walnuts. I never thought about nuts in the Vanillekipferln at all. Almonds don’t have an overwhelming own taste and are great for the vanilla flavour I would say. Hazelnuts are strong and in my opinion could cover the taste.

Originally they were invented in Vienna, Austria. They refer to the half moon in the Turkish flag. But what does Turkey have to do with Austrian cookies? In the 16th and 17th century Vienna was besieged by the Turks. And when they had to leave in 1683 bakers of Vienna invented the half-moon cookies and breads: Vanillekipferln and Croissants. The first official recipe has to wait another 200 years. In 1911 there was the first in an Austrian cookbook.

You can find them in Viennese coffee shops. But you will find them also in Poland, Hungary, and other eastern countries, and of course in Germany where they are a typical Christmas cookie. Especially during the 4 Advents you will be offered these – among other Christmas cookies.

They are very easy to bake and my gluten-free, paleo-friendly version is ready in a short time. I found the recipe in a magazine called Gluten Free. I changed only the butter into ghee and the dairy cream into coconut cream, used a little more flour and of course used another type of sugar, I used Xylitol. And, very important, I didn’t use vanille sugar but real bourbon vanilla bean paste.





Here is the Kipferl-Joy!

Vanillekipferln
Vanillekipferln
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
30 Kipferln 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
30 Kipferln 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Vanillekipferln
Vanillekipferln
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
30 Kipferln 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
30 Kipferln 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: Kipferln
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  3. In another bowl mix with a hand-mixer the ghee, salt and the sugar until creamy. Add the egg and then the coconut cream.
  4. Now add the flour by spoonfuls and mix until the dough is soft and smooth.
  5. Now put the kipferl-dough in a pastry tube, and on a baking sheet squeeze half rounds. You should get out 30 Vanillekipferln.
  6. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Don't let them get too dark!
  7. After a few minutes out of the oven sift the icing sugar on the top of the cookies and let them cool out completely on a cooling-rack.
Recipe Notes

You can store the Vanillekipferln in an air-tight container until Christmas. 

They are perfect for a nice little gift, packed in a Christmas bag.

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From Tasteless to a Rich, Sweet Bread: Stollen

Stollen was once a nearly tasteless bread made of flour, oats and oil and over time it became a rich, sweet bread with candied fruits and raisins, a typical German Christmas treat.

Christmas time, and I am always trying something new to make it a healthier version. This time I thought about the German Stollen. I never liked it very much as a child because I don’t like candied fruits and raisins. But of course there are many versions today, with marzipan, poppy seeds or chocolate.

Lately I had a talk with a very good German friend who knows the Stollen, which has a masculine article in German, with a feminine article and says ‘die Stolle’. Actually I found out that both ways are possible, her version is the old German way to name it and seems still to be in use in the eastern part of Germany. So this mystery is solved.

History instead tells me it was all but a sweet yummy bread in the past. It was baked the first time for the Council of Trent in 1545 and as ingredients there were only flour, yeast, oil and water. Just to think about it.. for sure more than tasteless. But at that time Advent meant a fasting time, bakers were not allowed to use good, rich ingredients. So there is the dry consistency coming from that I always had in my mind. All changed when a Saxony Duke tried to remove the fact of using only oil. It was expensive in the area, butter was easy to make from cow milk and cheap. Pope Innocent VIII sent the famous ‘Butter-Letter’ to the Prince’s household, that he was allowed to use butter instead of oil, but only in his household. Which didn’t resolved the problem for the country. That became only with Protestantism to be solved. During the centuries of course all became more light and the Stollen more heavy…. in rich, good ingredients.

Maybe the most famous Stollen comes from Dresden in Saxony. Here there is celebrated also the oldest Christmas market, the Striezelmarkt. Today it has more than 3 million visitors. It was mentioned the first time in 1434. The Saturday before the 2nd Advent there is a giant Stollen of around 3 to 4 tons that is cut for all the people of the festival. It could be a great reason to visit this Christmas market one day and live this old tradition.

I didn’t bake such a big one, but just the opposite: little Stollen bites or confection. I wanted them together with some other Christmas goodies packed in a Christmas bag for all guests of a friend’s invitation. We went to celebrate Christmas Eve in her house with the family and my contribution to it was the baking. And all eat paleo, healthy Christmas cakes.

I found a lot of different recipes and worked through two different ones to make my own gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free recipe. It came out so nicely. The texture is a little lighter than the original one, I omitted the candied fruits but put raisins (most of the people like them) and almonds instead.

Enjoy!





Stollen Bites
Stollen Bites
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
30 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
30 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Stollen Bites
Stollen Bites
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
30 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
30 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Ingredients
For the coating:
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Put the coconut cream and the lemon juice in a bowl and mix until creamy. Set aside.
  2. In a middle sized bowl add the paleo flour and the tapioca, whisk. Make a little well in the middle and add the warmed up milk, the sugar, the yeast and the vanilla, mix the wet ingredients a little until combined and put the bowl in a warm place for 30 minutes. The yeast should bubble a little bit after the time. The warm place could be the oven with light switched on.
  3. Take the bowl out of the oven, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F
  4. Mix the flour with the wet ingredients and add one after the other the rest of the ingredients. The coconut cream is the last ingredient.
  5. Put some parchment paper on a cookie tray and form ping pong ball sized batches on the tray. Bake for 15 minutes. After 10 minutes have a look, they should be golden and nearly dry when you put a toothpick in the middle of one of the Stollen bites.
  6. Take them out of the oven, and meanwhile they cool a little, melt some more ghee. With a brush put some ghee on the top of the bites and then dust some icing sugar on the top. You can do this two or three times to have a thicker sugar coating.
  7. Let them cool out completely on a cooling rack and then store them in an airtight container.
Recipe Notes

I omitted the candied fruit and the raisins as I don't like them. But of course it is your choice to put them instead of the almonds

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Christmas Cookies for Feeling Good

Make your own Christmas cookies and desserts! They are gluten-free, dairy-free and perfect for your Paleo Holiday treats.

The Holidays are already knocking at the door and the preparations are all on. Cookies can nearly all be done long before the date and they are already a pleasure to eat on the way to Christmas itself. To be all the time in the good-feeling-mode bake your own and surprise friends and family with healthy treats that don’t hurt YOU either.

Here are 10 of my recipes. There are more coming out these days so have always a look on the blog to be inspired for some different tastes.

No Christmas or winter without cinnamon! This is the most wintery spice ever! Try my little Cinnamon Stars, they are easy to make and could be also an idea to hang in the Christmas tree for the fun of your children (and not only!)

A little more work but a great result are my Dominosteine. They are tasty and very special. During this period you can find them in every supermarket in Germany.

A much more Italian tradition is the Fig Nut Cake. The idea for my version came from the Panforte.

Back to Germany we find the Gingerbread. For example for children once they made gingerbread houses. They are beautiful! You can cut them in many shapes, covered in chocolate or without.

Very similar we have in Italy the Mustaccioli. They look and taste similar but they are definitely different.

OK, Marzipan or almond paste you can prepare the whole year round. But in Italy the almond paste means very much Christmas. The most famous comes from Sicily.

Vanillekipferl are one of the most eaten in Europe. And very easy to make.

No Christmas without this typical Italian cake! Today you find it worldwide and in many places it is sold especially around this time: Panettone! Just make my Easter Colombo in a big round panettone form.

These cookies remind me my childhood when my mother would peel and slice some apples, and I would have Ginger Cookies with them. My dinner treat during this period.

And last but not least there are one of my favorite of all times: Roccoco. I just love these hard cookies you dip into wine before eating them.

There are many other recipes coming out these days on my blog. Don’t miss them and have a look on my blog. All cookies could be done the whole year of course, but the beauty in them is that they are seasonal, they come out just once a year, only during this period. And already in the late summer you start to think: I could skip the cold rainy weather in the winter time, but I want the Christmas cookies! Seasonal eating saves the taste of everything!

Happy Holiday Baking!

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Enlightenment between Marble and Art

One of the most beautiful places where to worship the own beliefs is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, also called White Mosque, in Abu Dhabi in the United Arabic Emirates. I visited this amazing place last summer and was so enchanted of so much beauty.

On our second day in Dubai we had booked an afternoon tour to the famous and largest mosque in the UAE. It is located just an hour and a half from Dubai and would be a 6 hours tour in all. We were looking forward to it.

Our tour started already in the hotel with choosing what to dress. We both opted for long, wide pants and a loose long-sleeve shirt and of course a big headscarf. It should be alright.

The tour started at our hotel were a taxi transferred us to the mini-bus. All in all we just were 13 tourists plus the guide and a driver. I was smiling as we had 4 women (Americans) all dressed sexy but no make-up and 4 women (Dutch) all dressed already in the abaya and head tightly covered, all in black and faces with tones of make-up. More contrast would not be possible.

Our guide was great. He, like many others in the UAE, was from another country but could give us really great information about history. He had the amazing gift to talk in a way like he is proud of (t)his country.

We learnt that on the highway you see the ‘border’ between Dubai and Abu Dhabi on the surface of the road (one is darker, one brighter) and on the streetlights that change a little (Dubai roads have 2 lamps, Abu Dhabi roads have 6 lamps).

We drove through a petrol/gas station that was built in a theme. We all recognized it immediately: Mad Max. That was real fun! And I noticed that there are ‘automatic police stations’: the area has video surveillance and in case you need a police officer you press a bottom and talk to a police man who apparently can see you. I am not sure if that is really working. But crime is not that big deal in the whole country I think.

When we arrived to Abu Dhabi we got some instructions about our comportment in the mosque area: no obscene or scatalogical gestures, always stay dressed appropriate, no screaming, smoking and strange photos. Well, for me that was all very obvious, we were to enter a religious place and there must be respect. But as we had young people with us (the 4 and 4 women) it was better to underline again, I guess (I know in western cultures people sometimes enter a church in flip-flops, shorts and spaghetti straps top). The women with no appropriate dressing got the abayas, my friend and myself were perfectly dressed.

We passed through the security in the SZGMC where we had to enter first our nationality, where we stay, age and some more information I don’t remember. I guess for the statistics and also for security in case someone would do something wrong.

Our guide continued to show us the mosque, telling us about the history and all to know about and after an hour we were left for free roaming.

The White Mosque is located in the capital of the United Arab Emirates. It was constructed between 1996 and 2007 and designed by a Syrian architect, Yousef Abdelky. The whole complex is 290 meters/950 ft by 420 meters/1380 ft, excluded the huge parking area. The mosque is facing Mecca in the west.

The design is a mixture of Persian, Mughal (India) and Egyptian mosques.

It was Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who wanted to unite culture diversity of the Islamic world in ancient and modern art and architecture. He is also buried in the adjacent grounds to the mosque. You find the typical Moorish style in the arches but also the Arab style in the minarets.

It was an Italian company to build the mosque, employing more than 3.000 workers and 38 sub-contracting companies. Materials like marble, gold, ceramics, crystals and semi-precious stones came from all over the world.

There is space for more than 40.000 worshipers, just inside the main hall there is space for over 7.000, the two side halls can hold each 1.500 people. The minarets are 107 meters/351 ft high and the amazing flower mosaic in the courtyard is the largest in the world (17.000 sq m/180.000 sq ft).

Inside the main hall there is the largest ever handmade carpet: it has 2.268.000.000 knots (who counted them?) and around 1.300 women worked 24 h for two years on it.

The amazing chandeliers you can see are from Germany manufacture and has millions of Swarovsky crystals incorporated. The largest of the seven has a 10 m/33 ft diameter and is 15 m/49 ft high.

The water pools around the mosque are already amazing in the daylight but at sunset or night they are breathtaking with all the lights and columns reflecting. I couldn’t stop taking photos as you can notice.

There is a library and a huge visitor center that is also place for education and visitor programs.

All in all, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder and first president of the UAE, has had a magnificent vision of beauty. I can not find words for such an amazing place. I was very much impressed by the beauty of it.


















































Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center, Abu Dhabi/UAE:


For further information:
The official website of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center
You should respect the dress-code and wear the right before going


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The Dubai Frame – Day 4 in Dubai

On our last day in Dubai we wanted to see The Frame. We already saw it passing by but there would be a museum and you can go up on the top to have a great view on Dubai. I was a little scared when my friend mentioned there would be a glass walk. But let’s see …

We had our morning ritual to go to the Arabian Tea House for brunch and afterwards a little window shopping on the way back. Then back in the hotel we decided to take a taxi to go to the Frame as it would be near but still too far to walk to. Shortly after the taxi arrived and – like many times – the driver was friendly, from Pakistan and very talkative. He told us about the traffic, where he is from, how life in Dubai is and what to see at the frame and the surroundings. He just left us in front of the entrance to the park where the Frame is located. It was still afternoon and a little too early for a good view from the enormous height of the construction. So we walked in the Zabeel Park, sitting at the fountain and enjoying the beauty of the place. Later we entered the Frame and had a look at the museum which was about the construction of the building and about the person who all started it all: H. H. Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. A very interesting man, by the way, with very interesting views. The initiator of the modern city of Dubai with very futuristic and great visions. And an amazing taste for beauty, I would say. It is also shown how Dubai changed from being a little fishing village to the modern city in just a short time.

The Dubai Frame is 150 m/492 ft high, the architect was Fernando Donis, an awarded Mexican architect. The construction started in 2013 and was completed only in 2017, inaugurated the 1st January 2018. It is definitely the biggest frame ever.

The construction is created out of reinforced concrete, glass and steel. It frames the modern city to one side, and the older city to the other side. Future and past seen from the present. The amazing frame is illuminated during the night and shines in gold and changing colors.

Of course at a certain time we took the elevator, which is panoramic and brings you fast up to 150 meters. The center top has a glass floor of about 25 square meters which shows the ground only when you walk on it. When you step off the glass floor it gets milky. I think that is a great idea, it doesn’t make you feel too much walking on ‘nothing’.

The view is stunning. The bridge between the two vertical panels is 93 meters long and gives a free view on both sides. In my opinion the best time for going up is right before sunset or very early in the morning in the winter-time, when the air is clear. In summer and especially during daytime the air is too hazy.

On the way down we stopped in a ‘virtual metropolis’ which was really 3D and an amazing feeling to stand in the future.

We left the frame much too early for the sunset and decided to wait in the nice park. We sat near to the entrance on the floor to take endless pictures of the frame when it started to change colors and was illuminated by the sunset. Just a magic time!

We left when it was already dark and walked to the metro station, maybe 20 minutes far. We saw a lot of joggers around, males and females, and I thought it is a city where the western and the Arabic world is perfectly combined.

This was our last day in Dubai, the day after we would leave around 1 pm, but before there would be still a nice brunch at our ‘usual’ place. I enjoyed these days very much, and I am very thankful to my friend who asked to join her here. It is an amazing city, modern, yes, but in a surprisingly beautiful way. I am no lover of modern art or architecture, but I learnt here that it is possible also in a harmonic, warm and beautiful way. I would love to come back for the Expo 2020!

(I know, too many photos, but I love them all!)




















Dubai, Dubai/UAE:


For further information:
Visit Dubai


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