Saturday, December 13, 2014

back again… and my favorite Christmas cookie of all time



Can I just say I'm getting teary writing this post right now?  I have missed it so, you don't even know.  

I'm such a sap lately; I really am.  To be completely honest, I have been practically willing myself through every day of the last month.  Hear me when I say I have absolutely no reason to be in such a state.  But as so many around me are doing, I am working tirelessly, and lots of hours and constant activity has resulted in some significant exhaustion, both physically and emotionally.  For whatever reason, on top of it all, I have been tying my brain up non-stop with loaded life questions and trying to reconcile a lot of pain I'm seeing both people I know, and those I don't, endure.  I've heard myself saying out loud, "I know you're there, God," and I'm regularly reminding myself this life is not meaningless.  I don't know.  Maybe all of this is because I'm getting closer to 40.  Maybe it's Satan.  I think it's the latter.

At the end of the day, I choose to seek joy, despite lack of momentary happiness.  I choose to find and celebrate God in the small things, so that I can appreciate Him when He pulls me and others around me through the hard.  I am committing to make time - be it ever so small - to just play.  And, of course, you know for me that means in the kitchen.

I posted this nearly two years ago and wanted to share it again before the big holiday that's upon us arrives.  I have many other recipes I've tried and even captured in pictures over the last weeks, but as I was scrolling through some past posts re-energizing myself to return, this one - above all - filled me with joy.  

Thank you for being patient.  My intent is not to go on long hiatus, as I've done this last time, but I appreciate you understanding why I did.      


I spent the first third of my life living in a duplex with my parents and grandparents.  It was the neatest thing to be able to run upstairs to "Ma and Popie's" whenever I fancied.  I have all kinds of wonderful memories, as many grandchildren do of their grandparents, but some of the best center around this time of year and all that played a part of the holidays growing up on Herndon Drive.

I couldn't imagine sharing anything but this recipe with you on Christmas day.  The first moment I'd smell Springerles baking, starting as far back as I can remember, to me, that was the official beginning of Christmas. Ma would work tirelessly for days on end, baking dozens and dozens of the German embossed cookies to pass out to friends, family, neighbors, you name it.  We had an extra oven in our basement, so the aroma would immediately make it's way up to me... just delightful.

These cookies are extremely unique, delicate, temperamental, but totally worth it.  With a slight tinge of licorice, the dough - even before baking - is hard to resist.

The star of the show is the rolling pin.  Isn't she a beaut?


I would love to perfect these one day.  Mine will never be as light, nor as beautiful, as Ma's.  But she has officially passed down the coveted rolling pin to me.  Although I have my work cut out for me, I feel completely honored to carry on the tradition.

I have had such a wonderful time "spending time" with you over the last few months.  I greatly appreciate your encouraging thoughts and sweet comments regarding all things Lazy Daisy.  I look forward to continuing to bless others with you through the gift of food... a way to so many's heart, and a way to comfort when words don't always suffice.  May God continue to richly bless you and yours as 2012 comes to a close; prayers for love and light in 2013.

Come to the feast (and don't forget to invite others),
Jen

Springerles - 
makes 4-5 dozen of traditional-sized cookies
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened but not melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of anise (can substitute fruit flavored oils; if you do, use 3 teaspoons)
  • about 7 cups all-purpose flour, or 2 pound box cake flour
  • more powdered sugar as needed
~ Dissolve baking powder in milk and set aside. 

~ Beat eggs in mixer (stand mixer is easiest) until thick and lemon-colored, about 20
    minutes. 

~ Slowly beat in the powdered sugar, then the softened butter. 

~ Add the baking powder and milk, salt, and preferred flavoring (I always use anise).  

~ Gradually beat in flour, one cup at a time.  If you have a dough hook, that works 
    wonderfully here.  If not, mix in as much as you can with the beaters and stir in the rest 
    by hand until you form a stiff dough.

~ Ma taught me to tape down paper on a large surface in which to work with the dough.  I 
    just cut open paper grocery bags and affix to our island.  She also suggests having 
    powdered sugar handy to sprinkle on the rolling surface and the pin, as well as the
    dough, as needed, so it doesn't stick.  Using the sugar works so much better, and is much 
    tastier, than flour.



~ Divide dough into two sections and cover the section you're not using with plastic wrap.  

~ Working quickly, roll out dough to about 1/4 inch (maybe a bit more) with flat rolling 
    pin.

~ Using Springerle pin, press and roll through the end of the flattened dough, doing your 
    best to apply consistent pressure to ensure fully embossed imprints.  If you look closely 
    at the picture below, you'll notice I worked a little too slow and the surface dried slightly, 
    causing some wrinkling.  If this happens, turn a blind eye (which I've done my fair share 
    of times) or pick up the dough, need slightly, and start over.


Below is the way the roll should look.


~ As each section is rolled out, use a pastry wheel or bench scraper to cut apart, following 
    the lines.


~ Allow cut cookies to dry a couple of hours (or more).  This will help the pictures stay put 
   when baking.

~ Place cookies on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake between 255 and 325 degrees 
   for as long as they take to turn slightly golden, about 10-15 minutes.  Our oven worked 
   best at 325 degrees for 12 minutes this last batch.  Humidity and such plays a roll, so my 
   next round may require a different time.  I highly suggest you try baking one at a time 
   until you find the right temperature and length of time that works.


~ Store in airtight containers or in zipper bags in the freezer. They keep for months, and 
    improve with age.