According to Wikipedia, the Kipferl is the ancestor of the French Croissant. I find that absolutely fascinating. I have always known it as an Austrian pastry. Somewhere along our line the Lauenstein branch lived either in Austria or somewhere very close to it… now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that was the first time the delicate pastry came to our family’s awareness. Also according to Wikipedia the cookie has been traced as far back as the 13th century and may be so far buried in antiquity that no one will ever know where they come from for certain. It is also credited as the origin of the French layered pastry that we know as the buttery, flakey, and melt in your mouth breakfast treat.
I look at the cookie and I see the familiar crescent of the Ottoman flag. And of course I wonder why the cookie, which could have any shape imaginable, would take on the shape of a symbol for a people who represented, to the middle ages Europeans, a sad and desperate era of history. And Wikipedia has the answer…. to celebrate the 732 defeat of the Umayyads at Tours in France. Another legend says that it commemorates the defeat of the Ottomans in Vienna in 1683. However… if the Kipferl is so steeped in antiquity as to be untraceable then the most likely meaning for the shape is the representation of the moon which refers to the waxing phase and has some neo-pagan meaning which is lost us modern and less romantically inclined peoples.
Where ever it is that these things come from, however the baker’s imagination derived this treat, the only thing that you have to know about these traditional cookies is that they are delicious. Often made a few days or a week prior to serving, these appear most often at Christmas time. Like most of my Grampa’s recipes, you only get it once a year, because there are seasons and we haven’t always had refrigeration. Now you can have your treats any time of year… if you are willing to pay the price for out of season fruits. I love these cookies. But they were not part of Grampa’s collection of traditions. We made it a tradition to by a box from the store each year. Then one year they tasted like sawdust and that was the end.
It is still a very dry cookie and is most excellent with some egg nog or coffee. It is lighter than most of the cookies you are going to find on plates at home and office parties. The only problem is having a nut allergy.