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Vanilice (Serbian Little Vanilla Cookies)

Vanilice are bite-sized Serbian Vanilla Cookies that are seriously addicting. With a nutty sweetness and a soft jam filling, they’re the perfect recipe to add to your next cookie platter!

Vanilice are bite-sized Serbian Vanilla Cookies that are seriously addicting. With a nutty sweetness and a soft jam filling, they're the perfect recipe to add to your next cookie platter! | www.CuriousCuisiniere.comChristmas Traditions In Serbia

In Serbia, Christmas doesn’t fall on December 25th.

The Eastern Orthodox Church uses the Julian Calendar, which is shifted just slightly from the Roman Calendar, putting Christmas Day on January 7th.

Advent starts November 28th and lasts for 6 weeks, during which time many people fast from meat and dairy as a way to remind themselves that they are heading into a holy time of year.

While Christmas trees are not common in Serbia, on Christmas Eve (Badnji Dan), a young oak tree (or oak log), called a “badnjak”, is brought home and burned in large bonfires (or in the fireplace), like a Yule Log, and kept burning through Christmas Day. Tradition has it that the shepherd’s brought a young oak tree for Many and Joseph to use to start a fire to keep themselves and baby Jesus warm.

On Christmas Day, a special lunch meal is eaten with a special bread called kolach, roast pork, cabbage rolls, and cake. Often there will be straw strewn under the dinner table in an effort to make the home reminiscent of the manger where Jesus was born.

Vanilice: Little Vanilla Cookies

Vanilice means “little vanillas,” and these bite-sized Vanilla Cookies are a type of Serbian Sitni Kolaci, or “tiny cookie”. This delicate class of cookie is most commonly served around the Christmas season.

Vanilice (pronounced VAH-ny-ly-TSEH) are a sandwich of two nutty, vanilla and walnut cookies together with a dollop of jam. It is most traditional to use apricot or rose hip jam, but any of your favorite flavors would work too!

Our recipe makes a lot of little sandwiches, but you’ll need them. We’re always left with nothing but a little powdered sugar when we serve these!

Vanilice are bite-sized Serbian Vanilla Cookies that are seriously addicting. With a nutty sweetness and a soft jam filling, they're the perfect recipe to add to your next cookie platter! | www.CuriousCuisiniere.comOur Serbian Vanilice Recipe

These little vanilla cookies traditionally use two ingredients that are not very common in the States: leaf lard and vanilla sugar.

We’ve adapted our recipe to use vegetable shortening in place of lard. While we’ve heard that the flavor and texture of these cookies made “properly” with lard can’t be beat, we just can’t seem to find it near us. The cookies are still delicious using shortening, so until we find ourselves some leaf lard, we’ll be sticking with the shortening.

Hey, it’s the holidays!

The other adjustment that we had to make was for vanilla sugar, this incredibly common ingredient in Germanic cooking is pretty hard to find in the States.

But, lucky for us, it’s easy to make. (Much easier to make than leaf lard, I’d bet!)

Vanilice are bite-sized Serbian Vanilla Cookies that are seriously addicting. With a nutty sweetness and a soft jam filling, they're the perfect recipe to add to your next cookie platter! | www.CuriousCuisiniere.comWhat is Vanilla Sugar?

Vanilla Sugar is an incredibly common ingredient in German, Austrian, Slovenian, and Danish baking. However, here in the States, we tend to prefer our vanilla extract. When you can find a packet of vanilla sugar, it’s expensive. And, to us, that’s just silly.

What’s silly about it is that vanilla sugar is SO easy to make.

How To Make Vanilla Sugar The Long Way

To make vanilla sugar the “long” way, you simply take a jar of sugar (powdered or granulated, depending on your intended uses) and place a split vanilla bean in it.

That’s it!

Shake the jar every day or so and wait for a week or two. When you open the jar and it smells like heavenly vanilla angels are singing back at you, you know your sugar is ready to use.

How To Make Vanilla Sugar The Short Way

Sometimes you need vanilla sugar in less than a week, and sometimes you just don’t have a vanilla bean at your disposal.

We know the feeling.

Luckily, most kitchens have vanilla extract. And, that’s where our “short” way to make vanilla sugar comes in.

All you need is 1 tsp of vanilla extract and 2 cups of granulated sugar. Mix the two together with a fork or a small whisk until the vanilla extract is evenly distributed. Then, spread the sugar out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Set the sugar aside to dry for 1 hour. Then, stir the sugar (breaking up any clumps), spread it out again, and let it dry for another hour.

After the sugar is dry, you can store your vanilla sugar in an airtight container in the pantry. If you need vanilla powdered sugar, just whir this granulated vanilla sugar in your food processor until it is finely powdered.

Vanilice are bite-sized Serbian Vanilla Cookies that are seriously addicting. With a nutty sweetness and a soft jam filling, they're the perfect recipe to add to your next cookie platter! | www.CuriousCuisiniere.com

Storing Vanilice Cookies

Vanilice are a wonderful combination of crumbly cookie and sweet, sticky jam when they’re first made, and the combo makes you want to start popping them right away. But, resist eating them all right away if you can!

Traditionally, these cookies are made 1-2 days ahead of time. Do you want to know why?

After a few days, the crispy cookie softens from the moisture of the jam, turning the whole thing into a bite that LITERALLY MELTS in your mouth!

Trust us, it’s worth the wait!

Vanilice are bite-sized Serbian Vanilla Cookies that are seriously addicting. With a nutty sweetness and a soft jam filling, they're the perfect recipe to add to your next cookie platter! | www.CuriousCuisiniere.com
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4.62 from 13 votes

Vanilice (Serbian Little Vanilla Cookies)

For best results, this dough needs to be chilled for 2-3 hours before cutting and baking.
These cookies are traditionally made 1-2 days before serving, to allow the flavors to meld together and the cookies to soften.
Yield: 45 (1 inch diameter) sandwich cookies
Prep Time2 hrs
Cook Time11 mins
Total Time2 hrs 11 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Eastern European
Servings: 20 people
Author: Sarah | Curious Cuisiniere

Ingredients

For the Topping

  • 1 ½ c powdered vanilla sugar*

For the Cookies

  • 2 c walnut halves
  • ½ c vegetable shortening
  • 1 stick salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 2 ½ c unbleached all purpose flour

For the Filling

  • ½ c jam (apricot or rosehip are traditional)

Instructions

For the Dough

  • Place the walnut halves in the bowl of your food processor. Grind them until they are evenly and finely ground. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat the shortening and butter together with an electric hand mixer. Add the sugar and continue to beat until creamy.
  • Beat in the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and lemon zest, until evenly mixed.
  • While beating on a low speed, add the ground walnuts and all purpose flour, mixing until an even dough forms. (The dough should be soft, but not sticky.)
  • Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a ball and wrap each separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the wrapped dough for at least 2- 3 hours (up to overnight).

Rolling and Baking

  • Preheat your oven to 325F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Working with half of the dough at a time, dust your counter top with flour and roll out the dough to ¼ inch thick.
  • Using a 1 inch, round cookie cutter, cut out the cookies and place them one inch apart on your baking sheet. (You may have to get creative here. We used the lid to a spice jar as our cookie cutter!)
  • Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes, until just before they start to turn golden around the edges. (You want the cookies to stay that nice white color.)
  • Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then, transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Filling and Powdering

  • Once the cookies are completely cool, make sandwiches out of them with the jam. Take one cookie at a time, spread about ½ tsp of jam on it, and top it with another cookie.
  • Once all the cookies are sandwiched, place your powdered vanilla sugar in a medium bowl or gallon bag. Roll each sandwich in the powdered vanilla sugar, until nicely coated.
  • Store the cookies in an airtight container on the counter. The cookies will be good now, but traditionally they are stored for one to two days before eating. Something magical happens in these two days, so do wait, if you can!

Notes

* To make Vanilla Sugar, mix 2 c granulated sugar with 1 tsp vanilla. Mix well using a whisk or fork, until the vanilla is evenly distributed. Spread the sugar out onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Let the sugar dry for 1 hour. Stir the sugar and spread it out again. Let it dry for another hour. Pour the dried, flavored sugar into the bowl of your food processor. Process the sugar until it is finely powdered. (Yield roughly 1 ½ c powdered vanilla sugar. Store it in a sealed container in a dry place.)
OR
You can also make vanilla sugar by sticking ½ of a vanilla bean into a jar with 3 cups of powdered sugar. The flavor of this sugar will grow more intense over time, and you can continue adding more powdered sugar to the jar as you use your vanilla sugar. For best flavor, let this sugar develop flavor over 1-2 weeks before using.

This year, once again, we’re hosing an International Cookie Exchange with our friend Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla!

Today a group of cookie-loving food bloggers is sharing recipes for cookies from around the globe. Get ready to break out your
mixing bowl, because these recipes are sure to inspire you to fill your cookie jar with cultural treats!

You can follow along on Twitter with the hashtag
#IntnlCookies, and you can find these great recipes and more cookies from
around the world on the International Cookie Exchange Pinterest Board.

Here’s the #IntnlCookies Tray…
listed in alphabetical order of the cookies’ country of origin

 

 

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Recipe Rating




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Natasa Nikolic

Sunday 24th of January 2021

Great recipe,,,, vanilla sugar is easy to find at specialty international grocery stores.... i guess though it depends on where you live. You can find them in alot of stores in Chicago

Sarah Ozimek

Sunday 24th of January 2021

Good to know! Thanks for sharing!

Snezana

Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

My grandma use to make us these cookies and my mom and I loved them so much. My mom and grandma passed away and I never got the recipe. Thank you so much for your detailed recipe and instructions. They turned out great:)

Sarah Ozimek

Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

So glad you found us! Hopefully making the cookies brought back wonderful memories!

Gigi

Tuesday 7th of January 2020

My late aunt Bertha came from Serbia and used to make these cookies she pass away without giving the recipe to anyone so I was so excited to find the name of the cookie and your recipe after much Google search thank you so much I just made the dough and put in the refrigerator. Will be baking the cookies tomorrow in honor of Aunt Alberta

Sarah Ozimek

Wednesday 8th of January 2020

We're so glad you found us Gigi! Hopefully our recipe brings back fond memories!

Tracy

Tuesday 19th of November 2019

My family came from Serbia and they had a cookie just like this one. My grandmother adapted it and made a ton of varieties each Christmas. When she passed away recently the recipe was also lost. You have no idea how excited I am to find this recipe and how happy our family will be this year with our tradition back!

Sarah Ozimek

Wednesday 20th of November 2019

We're so happy you found our recipe and can bring back the tradition for your family! Enjoy!

Sarah Horn

Thursday 9th of May 2019

I have been making these for a few years now! Always a favorite and very tasty. Good Serbian recipe. Hvala

Sarah Ozimek

Friday 10th of May 2019

We're so glad you've been enjoying them!

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