Flavored with anise and embossed with a variety of designs, these edible works of art were historically made for religious holidays and other special occasions. They remain wildly popular at the Christkindlmarkts (outdoor Christmas Markets) in Europe. Springerle are a very low-moisture cookie made without any butter, lard, or shortening. Springerle are very hard cookies that are stored for several weeks of "aging" as their flavor and texture develops. Over time they develop a delicately crispy-crunchy, shattering exterior and a slightly chewy center. They are traditionally eaten with and dunked in a hot beverage.
This authentic Springerle recipe is from the Swabia region of Germany where these famous cookies originated.
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 3 cups (350 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon anise oil
- 3 cups (350 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baker's ammonia
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- zest of one lemon
In a stand mixer with a whip attachment beat eggs until foamy. Add the vanilla and anise. Gradually add the powdered sugar.
Once all the powdered sugar has been added , beat the mixture for 10 minutes. The batter needs to be very loose and airy.
Using a paddle attachment. combine the flour, baker's ammonia and salt in a bowl. Add half of the flour mixture to the wet mixture along with the lemon zest. Beat for a full 15 minutes.
Add the remaining flour and beat for another 5 minutes. The dough should be very soft but not wet and sticky.
Form the dough into a ball, flatten it to an inch-thick disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.
The next day roll out the cold dough to about 1/3 inch thick -- or vary the thickness depending on the depth of your mold--on a floured work surface.
Dust your mold with flour before each print. Cut out with a cookie cutter or knife.
Place molded cookies on parchment sheets. Dry at room temperature for a full 24 hours, longer if you're in a place with high humidity.
After the cookies have dried for at least 24 hours, lightly moisten the bottoms using a damp towel
With rack in the middle of a preheated 300 degrees F oven, bake for 20-30 minutes. Watch them carefully as cooking time will vary based on the size, thickness, and shape of your springerle; not to mention that oven temperatures vary.
Remove to cooling racks. Cool completely before storing. They will become very hard as they cool.
Springerle are traditionally stored in airtight tins with an apple slice inside the container to soften the cookies over time. Change the apple every other day for one week. After one week, the Springerle have slightly softened. Remove the apple and then continue storing them in the airtight container for another 3 weeks for the flavor to develop.
Waiting 3-4 weeks is best to allow the texture and flavor to develop. Enjoy these Springerle on their own or, as is tradition, dunked in a hot beverage.
Makes about 3 dozen depending on their size.