'It's the most wonderful time of the year...'. Okay maybe not yet, but hey November is almost over which means we are officially in holiday season right? Gauging from that last sentence you can probably tell my level of excitement about the upcoming holidays. Christmas really is the best time of the year. What's not to love about a season that's associated with family, festivities, singing and general jolliness?

Today I thought I'd share one of my favourite holiday recipes with you. Note, the term 'holiday' is applied very loosely here given that I consume these cookies all throughout the year and rarely ever on the holidays. Vanillekipferi (or crescent/horseshoe as they are more widely known) is a traditional Austrian sugar cookie made with nut flour. These cookies have such an impressive history that they are even accredited to being the fore-bearer of the popular French croissant. The cookie was first introduced to Paris in 1839 when an Austrian Army officer founded a Viennese Bakery. It is said, the french chefs were so inspired by his Austrian fare that they re-created the cookie in a flakier form, creating the croissant.

Now, no cookie is complete without a piping hot beverage alongside. And what better to pair these almond crescents with than a decadent mug of Italian hot chocolate. Picture your regular hot chocolate but in a rich, thick, silky texture. It's such a luxurious drink, I'm not sure if I'd even still classify it as a beverage. Actually, Italian hot chocolate and I go way back. I always associate it with cold winters spent in University cafes agonising over design dilemmas (ah the glamourous life of a starving student). It's amazing how food conjures up some of our fondest memories. What will you be eating these holidays?








Traditional Almond Crescents

250g unsalted butter softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 cups almond meal
2 cups plain flour sifted
2 tsp vanilla extract
icing sugar to dust cookies

1. Preheat oven to 180C degrees, line tray with baking paper.
2. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla till you get a smooth consistency.
3. Add the dry ingredients and fold till combined. This step can be done by hand with a spatula.
4. Let dough sit in a cool unrefrigerated place for 30 minutes. Cover with tea towel.
5. Shape cookies by rolling mixture into 1 inch balls, then slightly flatten. Holding dough between your index and thumb lightly squeeze until it takes on a crescent shape. Place on baking sheet and smooth over with fingers for an even finish.
6. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden.
7. Once cooled, sift icing sugar over each cookie. Coat liberally.

Italian Hot Chocolate

120g bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp corn flour
dollop of cream

1. In a saucepan over low heat, add chocolate and a tiny bit of milk. Stir with wooden spoon till melted.
2. Dissolve corn flour in milk, then slowly add to chocolate and mix to combine.
3. Continue simmering over low heat until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon.
4. Add sugar to taste. Serve with a dollop of thick cream.