To date, I'm on my third batch of Springerle cookies, and fourth separate batch of Christmas cookies to bring to family and friends. I've been enjoying translating German recipes, flipping through various German cookbooks to find inspiration, and for the cookies I've never tasted before- experiencing new flavors.
I've only become familiar with these cookies in the last two years. They are a South German cookie, flavored with anise extract and printed with a rolling pin or single wooden molds. I've blogged about Springerle in earlier posts, but here, I've included photos of Springerle I've painted with luster dust. Springerle last for at least 3 months. Great with coffee or tea.
Ulm Weihnachtsterne: (Ulm Christmas Stars)
I came across this recipe in a Germany cookbook published in English with UK measurements. It's a shortbread like cookie with a marzipan and candied fruit topping. This cookie greatly improved its' flavor two days later.
Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars)
Cinnamon stars are perfect for the Christmas season. They are a meringue like cookie made with ground almonds, cinnamon, and egg whites. Although hard, they make an excellent cookie for dunking into your coffee or tea.
Nürnberger Lebkuchen (also called Elisenlebkuchen) Gingerbread
From decorated gingerbread hearts to rectangular shaped gingerbread cookies to round cookies and gingerbread houses, gingerbread has a long and celebrated history in Germany. Lebkuchen comes in different types, here, I used oblatens (round wafers) to shape gingerbread rounds. I translated a recipe from the Einladung zu Kaffee & Kuchen cookbook I own, converted the measurements, and made two changes to the recipe. Elisenlebkuchen is typically glazed with a powdered sugar and citrus icing and made from a dough rich with almonds, spices, and candied citron. You can find this kind of Lebkuchen imported to the US available in packaged form in European food markets or online. I had my first taste of Lebkuchen at a stand in the Christkindlemarkt (a Christmas market) in Bethlehem, PA a few years ago. This version comes very close to my first taste.
Translated and adapted from Einladung zu Kaffee & Kuchen
1995 Mosaik Verlag München
Makes 24 rounds (70mm wide)
1 1/4 cup sugar (caster or superfine granulated sugar)
1 large packet of Dr. Oetker Vanilla Sugar (available at most grocers)
3 cups of finely ground almonds (pulse whole raw almonds in a food processor)
3/4 T mace
2 tsp cardamom
3/4 T cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp rum
1/4 cup (generous) roughly chopped candied lemon peel
1/4 cup (generous) roughly chopped candied orange peel
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 T baking powder
24 oblaten rounds (alternatively spread or pipe dough into round shapes on a prepared baking sheet)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 T (or more) fresh lemon juice
Drop or two of almond extract or Amaretto
24 whole, raw almonds (for top)
Prepare two aluminum baking sheets with parchment paper. Lay out 24 oblatens on each.
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs with sugars until frothy and thick. Meanwhile whisk together the flour and baking powder. Reduce speed of the mixer and gradually add ground almonds, spices, rum, and candied citron. Gradually add flour and baking powder.
Pick up one oblaten and using a knife, shape and spread the dough onto the round. Alternatively, spread the dough into a circle onto the parchment paper. Continue with each. You may need to wash or rinse your hands to handle the cookie dough. It will be sticky.
Let cookies dry overnight (about 8 hours). Do not cover. The next morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for approximately 15 minutes just until edges begin to darken. Prepare glaze as cookies are baking. Mix powdered sugar, lemon juice, and extract with a fork. Remove cookies from oven. While cookies are hot, quickly press a whole raw almond into the center of each and place cookies onto a cookie rack. Use a pastry brush to glaze each cookie on the rack. Cool completely before placing inside bags or tins. The flavor will improve the next day and the day after.