Tag Archives: Gnocchi

VANILLE KIPFERL or CHIFELETTI as called in Trieste

My friend called them Vanille Kipferl, I recognised them instantly as Chifeletti (‘ch’ sound is pronounced as k in Italian and ‘letti’ at the end of words in Italian means small.). Same recipe, different name. But it is not surprising that we share the same recipe – my friend is from Vienna and I came from Trieste and both cities were part of the Austo- Hungarian empire.


The Vanille Kipferl (or Chifeletti) are frail, crescent-shaped, little biscuits dusted with icing sugar. They are popular at Christmas time in Austria and together with her much-loved cherry cake they were my friend’s contribution to our shared Christmas eve dinner. I ate the last of the kipferl recently; they last well and the flavour is said to improve when stored well.

I have found slight variations in the different Triestine and Austrian recipes sighted, (for example some add egg yolks to the mixture), but the ratio of ingredients seems to be the same. In Trieste, rather than adding vanilla to the dough they use icing sugar that has been flavoured with vanilla beans.


Chifeletti in Trieste are also called Lunette (small moons) or Curabiè, perhaps from Kourabiès, which are the Greek version of these biscuits. Interestingly enough there is an eastern Greek Community in Trieste and when visiting this very pleasant Italian city, it is worth seeing the Greek Orthodox church – Church of Saint Nicolò. There is also a Serbian – Orthodox church called San Spiridione, but this is another story and very telling of the historical culture and racial mix in Trieste’s population.


In my mother’s pantry, the jar used to store her icing sugar always had vanilla beans buried in it. Vanilla infused icing sugar for dusting is optional but if you want the real deal: Place vanilla beans in a jar of icing sugar, seal it and leave it for at least a week.

300g plain flour
250g butter
80g sugar
100g finely ground almonds
vanilla (a little paste or essence)
1 pinch salt
icing sugar for dusting

Rub the butter into the flour, sugar, ground almonds and salt and form it into dough.  Shape the dough into a ball, cover it with plastic film and leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Divide and shape the dough into finger thick long rolls and cut each roll into 2 cm pieces. Curve each small piece of dough into small moon shapes.

Place the biscuits on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in a pre-heated oven at 150°C for 10-15 minutes (They should be pale golden in colour and must not brown).

Remove them carefully from the oven and from the baking tray and when they are still warm dust them with plenty of icing sugar (vanilla flavoured).

When they are cold store them carefully in layers, in a tin with plenty of icing sugar.

The photo of my friend’s Cherry cake is below. As you can see, the batter is like pastry and there are many cherries in the centre.



Other pastries also called  Chifeletti  popular in Trieste are made with potato dough. These are fried and then rolled in sugar; my mother and Triestine aunts used to make these with the same dough as gnocchi…..gnocchi for lunch, followed by Chifeletti made with some left over dough.





When I lived in my parent’s house we ate brodo (broth) once per week. Sometimes it was made with chicken, sometimes with yearling beef and at other times it was a mixture of the two meats; a few bones were always included.

We always had brodo as the first course and the boiled meat as the second course, and this was always accompanied with Salsa verde.

Brodo is popular all over Italy and is considered essential when a member of the household is feeling unwell. It is seen as a restorative food in many other cultures as well.

Often we would have tortellini in brodo, but at other times, my mother added pastina (small pasta); these were either capelli d’angelo (angel’s hair) or thin egg noodles or stelline (small stars) or quadretti (small squares). Most of the time we had or favourite: gnocchetti di semolino floating in our brodo – these are small gnocchi, a specialty from Trieste. Because I spent my childhood there I became an expert gnocchetti maker from an early age.

Lately, with winter colds I have been making brodo and last week I also made gnocchetti. Although making them was second nature to me but next time I make them I will use a coffee spoon to make them smaller.


To make brodo, see:  BRODO DI GALLINA
INGREDIENTS (4- 6 people)
brodo (broth),
50 g of butter,
1 egg,
100g of semolina,
pinch of salt,
grated Parmesan cheese (1 tbs in the mixture and some to present at the table)
Make the brodo:
Beat softened butter and egg with a small wooden spoon until soft and well mixed. Use a small jug, milk saucepan or a bowl with steep sides.
Add the semolina and grated cheese slowly and continue to mix vigorously until perfectly smooth.
Bring the broth to the boil.
Use a wet teaspoon to shape the gnocchetti. Take small quantities of the mixture and slip small oval shapes off the spoon into the boiling broth. Keep the broth on a gentle boil.

Continue shaping the gnocchetti and poaching them until the mixture is finished. The gnocchietti rise to the surface when cooked (about 5 minutes). If cooking large quantities of gnocchetti, to prevent over cooking, take the cooked ones out with a slotted spoon before slipping in the new ones, but with the above amounts this will not be necessary.

Ladle broth and a few gnocchetti into each bowl and present with grated cheese.


The pasta I use is commercially made, but when I eat brodo in Sicily at my zia Niluzza’s (my father’s sister) makes fresh quadrettini (little squares) – she cuts the fresh pasta amazingly quickly.