Vanilice / Vanilla Cookies
Vanilice / Vanilla Cookies are a signature cookie in the Balkans. Meaning “little vanillas” in Serbian, these bite-sized cookies are made of two buttery cookies that sandwich a velvety filling of apricot jam. The cookies are lightly dusted with powdered sugar, adding an extra touch of sweetness. I grew up eating vanilice on so many festive occasions, from Christmas, Slava’s and New Years. They have been an all-time favourite treat in our household and I continue to make them as a part of my festive dessert selection. They are the perfect melt in your mouth cookies, so try them and add them to your next cookie platter.
About this recipe
Vanilice have been a generational recipe, passing down through families and communities. The combination of buttery shortbread and fruit jam filling is believed to have been inspired by Austrian and Hungarian baking influences, which were present in the region during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Since then, vanilice have become an integral part of Serbian baking.
Traditionally, the cookies are made with lard, however as I do not have a good quality lard, I always use butter instead. We are lucky to have amazing quality of butter in New Zealand. If you have lard, I would recommend trying it. The remaining kitchen ingredients are kitchen staples so these cookies are mostly inexpensive to make. Some recipes for vanilice do slightly vary by using grounded walnuts or lemon zest. I have a previous recipe for Vanilice (Serbian Jam Cookies) which uses lemon zest and walnuts that you can try also.
To help you with recipe success, here are some tips to help you along the way and to ensure you get the best soft and buttery Vanilice.
Butter temperature: Make sure the butter is at room temperature before starting. Softened butter is easier to work with and will create a better dough consistency.
Dough handling: Avoid overmixing. Overworking the dough can lead to tough cookies. Mix until the ingredients are just combined.
Chilling the dough: Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. Chilling helps the dough firm up and makes it easier to shape.
Rolling and cutting: Roll the chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface to a 0.5 cm thickness. Use a small round cookie cutter or a shot glass to cut the circles. Keep in mind that vanilice cookies are traditionally small in size.
Jam placement: When placing the jam, use about 1 teaspoon for each cookie. Spoon it onto the center of one cookie, leaving a small border around the edges. Then gently press another cookie on top to create a sandwich.
Baking time and temperature: Preheat your oven to the recommended temperature, 180°C. Bake the cookies until they are just lightly golden around the edges, usually between 15-20 minutes. Keep a close eye on them to prevent over-browning.
Cooling and dusting: Allow the cookies to cool on a wire rack completely before dusting them with powdered sugar. This will prevent the sugar from melting into the warm cookies.
Storage: Store the cooled Vanilice cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. They can stay fresh for several days or one week.
Looking for more?
If you are looking for more ideas, try one of the recipes below:
I hope you enjoy this traditional recipe for Vanilice / Vanilla Cookies. They really are a beloved delicacy that holds a special place in Serbian baking. Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts. If you have a moment, please leave this recipe a rating. I would love to hear what you think, and if you make this recipe or have any questions, you can find me over on Instagram. You can also find a video on making this recipe over on my TikTok.
|300g unsalted butter, at room temperature|
|150g caster sugar|
|1tsp vanilla extract|
|500g all purpose flour|
|200g apricot jam|
|100g powdered sugar|