Däs Cookie!- Springerle Cookies! -159 eggs, 124 cups of sugar, 121 sticks of Butter, and 151 3/4 cups of flour used so far- 86 recipes to go!

December 21, 2010

Martha's Springerle Cookies decorating a cake.

André's Springerle Cookies

In order to keep my sanity this holiday season I have decided to present the next seven cookies I’ve baked for the holiday season with a simple paragraph or two about their creation.

What can I say? It’s the holidays and I’ve been baking like a mad man.

Not only have I been baking, I’ve been baking Martha’s most difficult cookies. Apparently Martha thinks the holidays aren’t stressful enough so all of her holiday cookies are, of course, the most complicated to bake.

I’ve termed these treats, “Procto-Cookies” because they’re a pain-in-the-ass to make.

The first  “Procto-Cookie” comes from Germany where everything is a feat of engineering and tastes a bit like regret. Springerle is a traditional holiday cookie from the German hillbillies of Bavaria. The word actually means “Little Knight” or “Jumping Horse” and is reference to the traditional chess-figure imprint on these round or square anise-flavored cookies. Springerle are exchanged in many German provinces like Christmas cards in the U.S. and are often decorated with food color or even tempera paint since most are never really consumed but rather used to decorate the household or the Tannenbaum.

Why is this cookie so difficult to make?

First of all you need a Springerle mold or stamp. These can come in two forms… a rolling pin or a flat press. Searching online I found these molds can cost upwards of thirty to seventy-five dollars. I went to several specialty baking stores. One actually had an associate that knew what I meant when I asked for a Springerle mold. She showed me a carved rolling pin for fifty dollars. It looked nothing like a traditional Springerle design and seemed to be carved by Tahitians. Eventually I found a clay press of a traditional thistle in a dark and dusty corner priced ten bucks. Success.

The cookies are made from a sugary egg-white dough that is rolled out, pressed with the cookie stamp, then cut out and left to dry for 24 hours. The dough is incredibly sticky and therefore the intricate stamp has to be coated in powdered sugar with the excess sugar removed from the tiny grooves with a fine tipped brush between each stamping. The recipe yields over five dozen cookies. Every inch of counter space in my kitchen was covered with drying Springerle cookies for 24 hours. After drying, the cookies are baked at a very low heat for two hours. I spent six hours  doing nothing but baking Springerle. This was to remove the excess moisture from the cookie. Springerle are not so much baked as they are dehydrated into light and crisp cookie jerky.

They’re very pretty and elegant cookies but they’re not very tasty… at least by American standards. They’re flavored with lots of powdered sugar,  lemon peel and anise extract so they’re very sweet with a distinct citrusy licorice flavor.

This is one of the few cookies I’ve sent to work with my partner and had the container returned with over half of the cookies still in it.

I ended up having to throw most of these away. Pity.

Still… they’re quite attractive and I’m proud to scratch them off my list.

Anyone want to buy a slightly used Springerle press?

7 Responses to “Däs Cookie!- Springerle Cookies! -159 eggs, 124 cups of sugar, 121 sticks of Butter, and 151 3/4 cups of flour used so far- 86 recipes to go!”

  1. Sharon Davis Says:

    You didn’t paint them what a pity, that could have added another 10 notches to your stress level.
    Love ya. Merry Christmas

  2. Chelsea Says:

    Love the thistle, Andre! Glad you did it and shared the experience so I can live vicariously and not have to make them myself! This journey you are on is an act of love! xx

  3. Connie Strand Says:

    I wish I’d known you were making these – I would have loaned you the springerle rolling pin I inherited from my great aunt (who grew up in McPherson, not Tahiti). She made these every year and our family affectionately referred to them as “dog biscuits.” The trick to making these taste good is to dunk them in your coffee (or liqueur — even better!).

  4. Shana Says:

    The PA Dutch (from whom I am descended) use these to decorate Christmas trees. I’ve long dreamed of doing it (gorgeous tree with cookies, strung cranberries and popcorn, white lights), but perhaps will never attempt now…

  5. Claire Says:

    The German Wikipedia informs you that these cookies start to get edible after 2-3 weeks in slightly moist surroundings, they get brittle and the anise-flavour gets stronger. Practically you store them in a tin for 2-3 weeks with a (not too aromatic) apple that has been cut in half.

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