Do you have that cookie or cake or pie that is nostalgic for you? Like, it may not be the best cookie or cake or pie on the planet, but you love it because it tastes like Thanksgiving or Mom’s birthday or Valentine’s Day? Springerles taste like Christmas to me. I don’t even know if they are traditional Christmas cookies, but they were at my Grandparent’s house every Christmas growing up… and I love them. Grandma also made Snicker Doodles and Chocolate Chip and these fantastic and super-easy lemon cookies (I will share those one day!), but the Springerles were the one cookie I just couldn’t wait for.
I think that part of the reason I love them so much is because of the Anise. Anise is a plant, the extract of which has a black licorice-like flavor. I LOVE black licorice, and black jelly beans, and the smell of Sambuca and really anything with Anise or Anisette. The Anise flavor in these cookies is pretty mild, but not enough to where someone who hates licorice is going to like them. What I am saying here is that you are warned: if you don’t like black licorice, you probably won’t like these cookies.
I have tried to make these a couple of times, but let’s face it… they never turn out like Grandma’s. I was going to wait till Christmas to make them, since Grandma has a hard time doing so these days, but my Grandpa was not feeling well a few weeks ago and my mom was going to go visit him and these are his favorite cookies too… so I decided to attempt a batch. The flavor was there, but they were way too dry. Nonetheless, I am going to share them with you.
One more warning… these are not “these look interesting, I am going to make them tonight cookies.” These are prepare on Saturday and bake on Sunday morning kind of cookies. They take a lot of time. And love. Then again, all baked goods take a lot of love!
Here’s what you need:
- 5 large eggs, separated (into white & yolks)
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon anise oil (found in drugstores) or 1/4 tsp & a dash anise extract
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- 3 1/2 cups cake flour (see here on how to make your own!)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
As mentioned above, separate your eggs. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff.
Beat yolks with a fork, then add them into the whites. Ignore the egg yolk you see on the mixer there.
Add the melted butter and the anise and mix for just a minute or so. Then add in the powdered sugar and mix until incorporated.
Mix together the remaining dry ingredients – the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
Fold the dry ingredient mixture into the egg mixture. Refrigerate until cool… give it a good 2 hours or so. This is where I ran into a snag. I knew the dough had to be rolled, and after cooling it for about an hour, it was super sticky and not at all roll-able. So, I added flour… and flour… and flour… until I could roll it. In hindsight… not a good idea. It left my cookies super dry and floury once they were baked. Next time, I will leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours. We’ll see what happens ;)
K, so pretend my dough had no problems with being roll-able. On a heavily (emphasis on the heavily) floured surface, roll out the dough so it is about 1/2″ thick.
Springerles come from parts of Germany, France and Switzerland and are traditionally pressed with special boards or rolling pins, which give them an impressed design and guide lines for cutting. I do not have one of these tools, which are usually passed from generation to generation and kind of hard to find, unless you want to order one online… which I just might do. I digress… I just cut mine into little rectangles.
Place them on parchment lined baking sheets. I pressed some designs into a few using stuff I found around the kitchen… and I got all fancy with one using extra dough just to see how it would turn out.
This is where the long-time part comes in… leave the cookies uncovered on their baking sheets overnight. This helps to give them their semi-crispy outsides.
In the morning, heat your oven to 350 and bake them for 7-10 minutes. They will puff up just a bit.
My Grandparents grew up in the Swiss-German founded town of Tell City, Indiana. The town looks about the same now as it did in 1955, when my Mother was born there, with the exception of my Grandpa’s childhood home now being the police station & jail. As of 2000, the population was still below 8,000 people. This is where this recipe comes from. My Grandma got it from my Grandpa’s family a long time ago. I know that there are many variations on the Springerle recipe, and I would love to hear if any of you have a different version, or a different story or have ever even tried them before!
For a printable version of this recipe, click here.