My contribution is a cookie that is also one of my holiday standards: Soft Springerle. When I was a child, I loved anise/licorice flavor and I was intrigued by one of my Mother's rolling pins that had little pictures carved into it. I don't recall that my Mother actually made springerle cookies, so, when I left home, I asked for the rolling pin, fearing that it would be thrown away and knowing that I would use it myself someday. Over the years I searched for the perfect springerle recipe. Traditionally, these cookies require a period of mellowing, which transforms them from a very hard cookie to one that is more soft, usually a week or two. But who can wait that long! Now, there are times when I will buy a cookbook for only one recipe, and when I discovered a 'soft' springerle cookie recipe in Christmas Cookies & Candies by Barbara Myers (1979), I snatched it up. Maybe someday I'll try some of the other recipes, but, for now, this is the winner.
Soft Springerle1/4 pound butter
1 pound confectioners' sugar (about 3 3/4 cups, unsifted)
2 teaspoons anise extract or 2 Tablespoons anise seed
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon
4 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
- Cream the butter. Gradually beat in the sugar. (Mixture will be dry.) Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the anise extract (or seeds) and lemon rind.
- Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt; blend in to butter/sugar/egg mixture. Knead the dough briefly, add more flour if necessary to keep it from sticking to your hands. Chill until firm enough for rolling. (Note: you may not need either the extra flour or the chilling if the humidity is low.)
- On a lightly floured board, roll out small portions at a time to about 1/4-inch thickness.
- Flour a Springerle board or rolling pin and press or roll firmly into the dough. Cut the cookies between the designs with a floured knife. (A pizza cutter works nicely, too.)
- Set an inch apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Let stand at room temperature overnight to dry the tops and set the designs.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, or until pale yellow. Watch carefully so the bottoms don't get too brown.