You guys know what time it is, don’t you?
Yep. We’re doing it A-GAIN.
The annual 12 Days of Christmas series on Cooking is My Sport is officially back!
I’ve been putting on this series/exhibition/megafest of Christmas goodies for three years now, and every year I’m always so excited (if not a little bit nervous) to revisit the experience of 12 days worth of mixing, baking, boiling, photographing, writing and posting the crapload of treats that comes out of my kitchen for this shebang. There’s never a dull moment with it, let me tell you.
Every year I go through the same anxiety about whether or not I can ‘finish’ everything in time, and so far it has been somewhat of a close call with those last one or two recipes. In the past I’ve waited until there are only twelve days left until Christmas before starting the series. But this year, for the sake of my nerves and easing the pressure of having 12 recipes, 12 sets of photos and 12 posts written over the course of 12 days in a row, I decided to start a little bit earlier. Not by that much, but still…it helps.
Let’s get down to business, shall we?
Truth is, I’ve been wanting to be able to try this recipe out for months. MONTHS, I tell you. The thing that attracted me to it should kinda be obvious; the absolutely gorgeous design that the cookies have. I first spotted them in a Christmas magazine and was absolutely determined to find out how the heck that was possible.
A quick google search and a few minutes later I found out what they were: springerle cookies. (Yes, I absolutely did have to watch a Youtube recipe video just to learn how to pronounce that. Don’t judge me.)
They didn’t even look like something that needed to be eaten.
But I still wanted to learn how to make them. Turns out, that the beautiful design of the cookies is made by a wood mold that the dough is pressed into. No biggie, I figured. I’ll just see where I can find some of those molds.
Yeah, well…here’s the thing. Springerle molds are hand carved. There are also only a handful of manufacturers that actually make them and they’re in America.
The average cost of one mold is around thirty dollars.
Meaning, they’re not cheap. At least not for my budget. I was frugal and put off buying them for a while; months actually. But I kept coming back to look at them. I couldn’t help it. House on the Hill is the primary manufacturer of the wood molds and one day I was perusing their website at the vendors that carry them throughout the country. There aren’t that many. But lo and behold, guess what I found:
A vendor was right smack dab in my hometown of Lansing. It felt like a sign. A sign for me to to stop being cheap. I went out to the vendor location that same day and splurged on two wooden cookies molds.
Two words guys: WORTH.IT.
I’ll be honest, making Springerle is a process. And as you can see after my very first go at it, I’m going to need some more practice before I perfect the technique. However the result of what I did turn out with satisfied me so much that I’m definitely planning on giving this another go very soon.
I had to be patient and understanding with the dough; I know that may sound over the top, but it really wasn’t. Especially when I begin stirring it with the wooden spoon. Patience and tenacity are a must, as well as a willingness to “get in there” when kneading with your hands. When it came to flavorings, I decided to go pretty “safe” and use 4 tsp of vanilla extract for this first time batch of Springerle but in the future I would love to experiment with citrus flavors like orange and lemon oil.
Molding and imprinting the design of the Springerle was another learning process. For the Christmas tree cookies, I could just use my bench scraper to cut them out into straight squares, but for the other ones I had to buy a regular plastic cookie cutter that was slightly bigger than the heart mold so that the shape wouldn’t be wonky. It didn’t turn out bad, but I also think they could look better. Still looking for either a bigger heart shape cutter, or a bigger circle one to minimize edge cracking.
The cookies also slightly puff up when baking; the texture is soft, thick and somewhat cakey. These are also really made to last a while, and hold up well to shipping in the mail. They were a great choice for me to introduce this year’s Christmas series, and to add to this week’s Fiesta Friday #97, co-hosted by Johanne@French Gardener Dishes and Liz@spades, spatulas & spoons.
Stay tuned for more recipes for this year’s 12 Days of Christmas!
Recipe Courtesy of House on the Hill
- 1/2 teaspoon baker’s ammonia (Hartshorn) or baking powder
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened but not melted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 lb. box sifted cake flour (Swansdown or Softasilk)
- more flour as needed
Dissolve hartshorn in milk and set aside. Beat eggs till thick and lemon-colored (10-20 minutes).
Slowly beat in the powdered sugar, then the softened butter.
Add the hartshorn and milk, salt, preferred flavoring, and grated rind of lemon or orange, if desired.
Gradually beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer, then stir in the remainder of the 2 lbs. of flour with a wooden spoon to make stiff dough.
Turn onto floured surface and knead in enough flour to make a good print without sticking.
If using wooden springerle molds: Brush confectioner’s sugar or flour (I used confectioner’s sugar) over mold with a clean, dry pastry brush to prevent sticking.
Roll dough 3/8 to 1/2 thick (deep molds need thicker dough). Imprint with your press/mold, then cut out shape with knife (or cookie cutter slightly larger than the mold). Note: if you press a cookie adjacent to another cookie, you may distort the first image so be sure to press & cut, press & cut as you go along.
Arrange your cookies out on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, then set in your cold oven and/or microwave to “dry” for 2-24 hours. (I let mine rest for roughly 19 hours). Don’t freak out when the exterior becomes harder and drier; that’s supposed to happen. Also don’t freak out if the dough faintly smells of ammonia- that’s the hartshorn, and the smell DOES bake out. Just don’t eat the raw dough.
The temperature that you bake at is going to depend on the size of your cookies. I started my oven at 285 degrees F, then gradually increased it to 300 degrees F. TEST BAKE ONE COOKIE BEFORE THE WHOLE BATCH to find out what works best for you and your oven (However, unless you’re baking HUGE cookies, I wouldn’t go above 300 degrees to be honest).
Bake cookies one tray at a time, on the middle rack for 10-15 minutes, just until the cookies are barely golden on the bottoms. If they’re still not after 15 minutes, you can continue to bake, but check them at 2-3 minute intervals.
Let cookies set on the cookie sheets for 30-60 seconds,then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an air tight container with a piece of bread (it will keep the cookies soft).