Springerle Cookies at our house and early winter at Omni Spa Resort in Bedford Springs, PA

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My introduction to these elegant oval cookies happened fairly recently, but it was love from first sight. When I saw these beauties while browsing a Christmas book, I knew I had to learn how to make them. I found out that I would need special molds in order to attempt to make these cookies, and that’s when my search for information has began.
It turns out, these cookies came to us from Europe - Switzerland and Germany started making these about 400 year ago simply as a New Years postcard. The cookies were made in different sizes with different pictures, and people would exchange them when they would come for a visit. This makes such a special and a unique gift for any holiday. These cookies keep fresh for a long time - an astounding 6 months (if you can keep yourself from eating all of them in one sitting - yes, they’re that good!).  And people say that they even get better with age (like a good wine) because of the added spices. Currently we use vanilla extract, lemon, orange and even rose water, but the traditional Springerle cookie is made with anise.
I loved this story so I decided to try it myself. First I needed to buy the special molds, which wasn’t a simple task. The history of these molds is interesting as well - they were cut out from the pear tree, and there were special masters to carve them out. I found one company  House on the Hill  which has a great collection of these molds, but they don’t come cheap, so I only bought 2 so far. Of course, they are no longer made from the tree, but the pictures are the same as used 400 years ago :)

I hope you will fell in love with them as I did. Perfect gift for any Holiday.

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Adapted from House on the Hill
These whisked-egg holiday cookies date back to at least the 1600’s and are made in Bavaria, Switzerland and the Alsace area of France. For eating quality, ease and quality of prints this recipe is just perfection!

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 teaspoon baker’s ammonia (Hartshorn) or baking powder, better to find baker’s ammonia
  • 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
  • 1/2 teaspoon of anise (if substituting fruit flavored oils, use 3 teaspoons)
  • 2 lb. box sifted cake flour (Swansdown or Softasilk), I use all-purpose flour, I like it better
  • grated rind of orange or lemon – optional (enhances flavor of the traditional anise or the citrus flavors)
  • more flour as needed
Tip: The original recipe calls for the addition of cake flour, but I used regular white flour. I think the picture is more clear with this flour and doesn’t “bubbles” while baking.

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Directions:
Dissolve hartshorn in milk and set aside for about 30 minutes. 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 to make stiff dough. Turn onto floured surface and knead in enough flour to make a good print without sticking.
Follow general directions from House on the Hill for imprinting and drying cookies.

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Bake on greased or baker’s parchment-lined cookie sheets at 255° to 325° till barely golden on the bottom, 10-15 minutes or more, depending on size of the cookie.
Store in airtight containers or in zipper bags in the freezer. They keep for months, and improve with age. Yield 3 to 12 dozen (depending on the size of the cookie).

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I made these cookie a few days ago, but we went on a little weekend getaway, so I’m only now sharing this recipe. Our trip was planned a few weeks ago, since we really wanted to see the beauty of autumn in the Pennsylvania mountains.
Imagine our surprise when we were awaken to a snow covered landscape our first day there. The kids were excitedly jumping and running around, and it was like we woke up in a wonderful Christmas fairytale.
This place turned out to be a historical landmark, over 200 years old and it was built on the mineral springs, and was recently renovated.
Enjoy my photo-reportage from our getaway.

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From The History of Bedford Springs:

"Bedford Springs Resort is truly an American original. With its growing list of wealthy clientèle, it gained a reputation as a luxury destination and was proclaimed as the Most Popular Resort in the United States."

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"The Native Americans first used the mineral springs for their curative properties, and in the late 1700's they shared the powers of the springs with a doctor named John Anderson. In 1796, Dr. Anderson purchased the 2,200-acre property on which the resort now stands. He built a home on the property and as word spread of these unique waters, visitors arrived from around the globe to experience them. He housed the guests in tents and offered custom prescriptions for guests based upon their needs."

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We had our "Afternoon tea" of course :)

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This trip inspired me bake more elegant desserts to reflect the spirit of the coming winter.

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16 comments:

healthyfoodietravels said...
November 5, 2011 at 4:23 PM  

Gorgeous photography!
I love Springerles (I am from Germany), and we have a few of the molds at my parents' house. I remember how careful one had to be with them, and I never had the patience when I was a child. Now I want to try again when I visit next :)

professorvegetable.com said...
November 5, 2011 at 5:58 PM  

Beautiful cookies and lovely photos!!!

Dzoli said...
November 5, 2011 at 11:45 PM  

I have to go and fine some baking forms like this.The cookies look so beautiful..hard to decide to eat them.
Everything looks so beautifull...:)

Ann said...
November 5, 2011 at 11:47 PM  

What a beautiful resort....but the real beauty is the cookies! I checked out the web page and the moulds are stunning! I am absolutely stunned at this beautiful cookie and the history. Thank you SO much for sharing....buzzed!

Amalia said...
November 6, 2011 at 1:07 AM  

Wow, these cookies look so beautiful! And I think it's so cool how they taste better after they age for a bit :)

Choclette said...
November 6, 2011 at 4:46 AM  

These cookies are so beautiful - very impressive. I've recently bought a cookie stamp, but haven't quite got the technique right yet.

certaintyincookiesandtaxes said...
November 6, 2011 at 11:56 AM  

Such a beautiful cookie! I can see why they'd be perfect for the holidays.

Cake said...
November 6, 2011 at 2:10 PM  

These cookies are simply stunning. Wow.

Janice said...
November 6, 2011 at 3:26 PM  

These are so pretty like cameos! It would be difficult to eat them... well probably not lol!

Eliotseats said...
November 6, 2011 at 6:31 PM  

Lovely, lovely cookies. Great pics and lovely, lovely getaway!

Peggy said...
November 9, 2011 at 5:51 AM  

Those cookies are almost too pretty to eat! Sounds like you guys had a great time at the resort, as well =)

Rachael @ Monistical said...
November 13, 2011 at 4:10 AM  

This is my new favourite post...how beautiful; ironically, I'm in Europe (UK) and have been on the hunt for Springerle molds for about a year, seems we don't have the demand here, but seeing this post has just renewed my determination, thanks for sharing!

Anne said...
November 29, 2011 at 2:31 PM  

I haven't had springerles in so long! I didn't know about the molds. My family has a special rolling pin for making the cookie impressions.

lifescoops said...
October 25, 2012 at 9:40 AM  

Thank you for participating in the Cookie Party at LifeScoops. These cookies are definitely delicious. I have added these to Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/hishema/cookies/)

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...
December 7, 2012 at 11:41 AM  

Saw this post at Spicie Foodies and I knew right away it's your recipe before seeing your name. :) Absolutely gorgeous. One day when I have time, I need to see your entire posts starting from the beginning. LOL. Beautiful cookies!!

Julia said...
December 7, 2012 at 4:43 PM  

These cookies are so pretty and classy! Wonderful job!

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