In my opinion European cookies are tricky. They don’t look complicated, but they can fool you, usually when you least expect it. When I started this post I thought I would just show a few photos and share a recipe, but when I posted a picture of a few of my cookie molds on Instagram and Facebook I got lots of questions about the molds, where to find them, and how to make the cookies. So in this post I’m sharing info on the sources of the molds, which ones work best in my opinion, and some comments about the bazillion recipes that are out there in bloggieland.
When I was first in Paris years ago I swooned over all the little works of art in the patisseries that were on every block. I fell in love with French macarons and spent months trying to perfect my technique so I could at least make something presentable. The feeling I got when they at last looked close to the way they should was exhilarating…I was so proud of myself! I put German Springerli Cookies in the same category as macarons…very finicky and unpredictable. I’m still working on it…actually have a long way to go…which you will understand if you check out a few websites that feature springerli and other similar German cookies.
I have seen lebkuchen and springerli cookies in the Christmas Markets in Germany many times. They are so pretty to look at and make a big splash on holiday cookies plates, but honestly, they aren’t my favorite cookies to actually eat. I think they are more tradition than anything and no Christmas cookie plate would be complete without them. I’m sure many will disagree…that’s just my opinion. As I tried more and more recipes for lebkuchen I finally came upon a recipe that I love and make every year (you will find it HERE) and last year I moved on to try my hand at springerli. When I started doing research one of the first websites I found was House on the Hill. The site is inspiring and by the time I read everything and watched the video several times I was ready to commit myself to learning the art of making springerli. It’s a commitment because the molds are expensive and the cookies take care and patience to make them as they appear in all the beautiful photos of them.
Proper recipes for springerli are necessary…don’t try to make them with sugar cookie or shortbread dough because it won’t hold the image the way springerli dough does. The dough can be tricky because it is affected by such things as size of the eggs, type of flour, even humidity in the air. The cookies in the top two photographs were made with House on the Hill recipes for Molded Ginger Bread Cookies and Perfection Springerli Cookies. The cookie on the top right in the third photo has a sugar glaze poured over it. I love the taste but think it obscures the design a little bit. I used King Arthur Flour’s recipe for Chocolate Pumpkin Spiced Springerli Cookies for the cookies in the third photo. You will find an excellent video at House on the Hill that takes you through each step of the process of making springerli.
Because they are expensive I’m building my springerli mold collection slowly. They are so beautiful I want them all. I prefer the molds with deep impressions because they make a much more distinct design than the shallow ones. Compare the nutcracker cookies below with the acorn mold above. Detail on the nutcrackers is more difficult to see than on the deeper cut molds. Some of the more unusual shaped molds have cookie cutters that can be purchased so you don’t have to cut them out with a knife.
Compare these nutcracker cookies to the acorn mold above. Detail on the nutcrackers is more difficult to see than on the deeper cut molds. The flower mold below is a medium depth and prints a cookie with nice clean edges. In my experience letting the cookies dry overnight after they have been cut out is the secret to a nice sharp design. The King Arthur Flour recipe doesn’t include that step, but I think it’s important to add it. It makes a huge difference. French macarons are the same…they need to be air dried to form a crust on the unbaked cookie. That is the step that produces the sought after little “feet.”
If you would like to see a selection of House on the Hill Springerli Molds go to Fancy Flours , Fantas Kitchen Shop, and King Arthur Flour. For a list of Eastern U.S. retailers check here. I love House on the Hill molds and there are other manufacturers out there as well. Just Google “springerli cookie molds” and you will find them. Among my favorites is Springerli Joy. Do you know that, with these versatile molds, you can make cheese impressions for crackers? Take a look. It’s very clever and oh, so pretty on an appetizer plate.
If you are interested in springerli cookie molds and would like to learn more about them I urge you to go to the above links. Like many recipes it may take several tries to get the results you want, and it’s such a feeling of success when you do. Sometimes the first try is a flop…like the one below. This is another German Christmas cookie, made almost entirely of ground hazelnuts and baked on oblaten wafers like lebkuchen. My attempt is on the left. I’m a little suspicious that the picture isn’t of the actual cookie because I followed the recipe exactly, but I’ll try again. It was delicious but in no way resembled the photo. Oh well…the fun is in the trying. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!