These famous Christmas cookies hail from the Swabia part of Germany and can be traced back to the 14th century. This version is a bit of a cheat. Let me explain why.
In the past when making these traditional German holiday cookies I have used hirschhornsalz (Baker's Ammonia) which is a leavening agent. The US equivalent would be baking powder which makes the cookies rise or spring (jump) up.
In the traditional version, the roasted anise seeds are scattered on the baking tray and the raw cookie cutouts are gently pressed into them before making. I mixed them into the dough.
They taste just as good unpainted but decorating them, even though it adds more preparation time, adds a bit of holiday magic to this anise and lemon scented German traditional holiday cookie recipe.
The wood molds can be hard to find in the USA and are expensive to buy from boutique websites. Try eBay or Amazon for more affordable options.
I used paste food coloring, edible gold and silver dust and disco dust to decorate the cookies because you know I liked my baked goods sparkly. However, they do look beautiful unpainted as well. I like to place the unpainted ones on a colorful, decorated holiday platter for contrast.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Dry time: 24 hours
Yield: 28 large cookiesIngredients:
- 1 tablespoon anise seeds
- 5 large eggs
- 4 +1/4 cups powdered sugar
- 4 +1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon pure anise extract
- 1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- You will also need:
- Wooden Springerle molds
- Cookie cutters in the size and shape of the molds (Square, round, oval, etc.) Small bowls
- Food coloring
- vodka or any clear drinking alcohol
- paintbrushes with soft bristles
- disco dust, edible gold and silver dust (optional)
- Place the anise seed in a naked small frying pan over a low flame and toast them, stirring occasionally. When the seeds have browned slightly, remove them from the heat and set aside to cool.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, place the powdered sugar in the bowl. Add the eggs and beat on low until the sugar has been combined with the eggs. Then turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat the eggs and sugar well until the mixture becomes creamy and light.
- About 5 minutes.
- Add the anise and lemon extracts and fresh lemon zest
- Turn the mixer speed down to low and gradually add the all purpose flour into the wet ingredients. Add in the toasted anise seeds. Once everything has come together into a smooth dough, cover the bowl with a dishtowel and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
- Line 2 baking sheets with baking or parchment paper.
- Dust the springerle molds with flour and turn the dough out onto a slightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half and working with one-half at a time, roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thick. Lightly dust the surface of the dough with flour.
- Press the flour dusted mold evenly into the dough.To get the full impression, you will have to push harder than you think. I made one cookie at a time. If you want to make several at once, make sure to leave enough room in between the impressions to cut the cookie out with a cutter. Use a cookie cutter in the shape of the mold to cut out the molded cookie. Then, with a spatula, gently transfer the cookies to the parchment lined baking sheets.
- Once all the cookies are cut, let them stand overnight - 24 hours. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Place the baking sheets on the lowest cooking rack in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Start checking them after 10 minutes. The Springerle should be cooked, but not browned.
- Remove the cookies from oven and transfer them to a wire tack to cool completely.
- To paint the Springerle:
- Place a dab of food coloring into a small bowl. Add a few drops of vodka to dilute the color. Use a paintbrush to carefully paint the color onto the raised parts of the cookie.
- To apply disco dust or gold and silver dust, dip a paint brush into the vodka, apply to the part of the cookie you want to glitter, then into the dust and spread on the alcohol painted cookie part. A little of both goes a long way, so start with just a tiny amount. You can add more in layers until you achieve the desired effect.