So the other day, I posted a few pictures of my springerle cookie mold on our Facebook fan page. (Come join us!) Here it is. It’s an impressively heavy thing.
A lot of folks were interested, so I figured I’d write a little about cookie molds, their history, and include a shopping guide so you can get one (or three) for your very own.
‘Tis the season, right?
I preface this by saying: I am not a springerle expert. I do however, have a ton of fun playing with my cookie mold, as you can see by the untraditional chocolate shortbread cookies in these pictures.
For this post, I was messing around with leftover chocolate shortbread dough from the tarts I brought to Bon Appetit’s Holiday Bake-Off Party.
What are springerle cookies and where did they come from?
Springerle are pretty German cookies that are usually made around Christmas. Some of the oldest springerle molds are actually traced back to the 14th century.
In Old German, “springerle” means “little jumper” or “little knight”, which refers to how the cookies poof up in the oven. (Some folks hold that many of the early molds depicted a springing horse.)
Through history, springerle molds have been carved with all sorts of images—from animals to biblical scenes to everyday life. They’ve been used to celebrate weddings and births, served as decorations, and were even exchanged like holiday cards.
What do they taste like?
Traditional springerle cookies are flavored with anise oil and anise seeds.
They’re hard when they come out of the oven, but soften up if you keep them covered. They’re a little like biscotti and are great for dunking.
Wait. How the heck do you pronounce “springerle”?
Ha! Excellent question. OK. Put on your best German accent, and repeat after me: SHPRING-uhr-lee.
(Say that three times fast and try not to giggle.)
How to make springerle cookies
To make springerle cookies, a simple, stiff cookie dough is embossed using ornate molds and rolling pins that are carved out of wood or resin.
To do this, roll out your cookie dough, firmly press the mold (facing down) onto the dough, then carefully remove it.
And…presto! Your dough should have an impressive, raised picture on it. (Sorry, that’s much more exciting when I do it in person, with a flourish of flour, after a glass or two of wine.)
Cut the cookies apart carefully (or not so carefully, as you see in my example below).
Alternately, you can also roll the dough onto the mold, then peel the dough off. You stand a better chance of ripping the dough this way, though.
Connie Meisinger from House on the Hill gives a really good overview of how to make them here:
My springerle mold
Springerle molds are like little works of folk art. And like good cast iron, they’re the kind of thing that you pass down to your favorite family members and friends. (Don’t believe me? Check out the stories behind these fabulous, antique molds.)
I bought my mold at Sur La Table years ago, on sale.
They actually still sell the same one (the Vignette Springerle Mold below), plus a handful of other beautiful molds.
This is the springerle mold I have
For traditional, anise-scented springerle cookies, you let the dough dry overnight to cure a little and help preserve the details on the image.
It’s probably not proper, but I use my cookie molds with a lot of different kinds of dough, and just omit the over-night drying period. Any relatively stiff dough usually works well.
That’s chocolate shortbread dough in the pictures, which was a little on the sticky side, but still worked out just fine.
A recipe for springerle cookies
Springerele cookies are easy to make.
They only have a handful of ingredients: flour, sugar, eggs, some kind of leavener (hartshorn is traditional, but baking powder is commonly used), flavored oil (anise is traditional), and anise seeds.
I’ll track down my mom’s recipe and will do a step-by-step walk through for you. For now, Martha Stewart has a great recipe here.
Springerle Cookie Mold Shopping Guide
A word of warning: Springerle molds aren’t the cheapest things in the world, especially as far as baking implements are concerned.
The great thing about springerle molds is that they’re so pretty, you can use them as decorations. When I’m not using my big cookie mold, I display it in my china cabinet (along with my growing collection of wishbones, but that’s a story for another day).
Here are some of the prettiest molds I’ve seen lately.
Other springerle resources
Four other ways to make picture cookies
There’s more than one way to put a picture on a cookie. Take a peek!
1. Shortbread molds
Shortbread molds are different than springerle molds in that the cookies are typically baked in the mold, then cut apart afterwards.
This Nordic Ware Snowflake Shortbread Pan is pretty.
Nordic Ware also makes a non-snowflake version.
This Chicago Metallic 12 Days of Christmas Cookie Mold is also kinda cool, especially if you have kids.
2. Cookie Stamps
You can also achieve the same embossed effect with cookie stamps, which work just like a regular ink stamp to press an image onto the dough.
3. Chinese moon cookie molds
Traditionally used to make cookies to celebrate the harvest moon festival, moon cookie molds work well for a variety of stiff doughs.
4. Gingerbread molds
I don’t have one of these pans, but they’re definitely on my list of things to pick up before the holidays.