Poking around at an estate sale a few weeks ago, I found that things seemed picked-over for the most part. But just when I was about ready to leave empty-handed, I saw a familiar looking wall hanging in the corner of the kitchen. I knew immediately that it wasn’t merely a carved wooden block; it was a large and unusual springerle mold. I quickly took it to the check-out man and asked for a price. He shrugged and proposed a bargain: “Three bucks!” I tried to conceal my excited grin as I gladly handed him the cash.
Springerle molds range widely in size, intricacy and age. This new-to-me mold is wooden, about 4 x 9″, and bears a sticker that says it was made in Strasbourg at a place called Trouvailles. It’s carved with 18 different critters — perfect for autumn’s own visitors and holidays, in my view. Having never seen one quite like it, I could hardly wait to put it to use. I immediately began thinking of new recipes for springerle: those beautiful white German cookies flavored with anise. Even though I enjoy the traditional style and flavor, I was ready for a fresh twist and was soon to settle on my own color, texture and flavor.
Orange Cocoa Springerle* (makes about 70 little cookies; mine were 1.25 x 1.5″)
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3.5 cups flour, preferably cake flour
- 4 eggs
- 3.5 cups powdered sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon pure orange oil
Sift together first three ingredients; set aside. Beat eggs with an electric mixer (preferably a standing mixer with whisk attachment) on high until they are voluminous, pale and creamy, about 8-10 minutes. Sift powdered sugar over the beaten eggs, mixing it in slowly. Add orange oil and mix until incorporated. Add the flour mixture a little at a time with mixer on low, replacing whisk with paddle or dough hook if needed. Dough will become very thick; mix it just until it holds together and is even.
Cover dough in plastic while you line cookie sheets with parchment paper, dust a work surface with flour, and brush your mold with powdered sugar. Take only as much dough as you need for your first round of pressing, keeping the rest covered in plastic. If dough feels too sticky, freely add a little flour by hand. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough about 1/3″ thick. Push the prepared press into it firmly and evenly, then remove. Cut edges with a pizza cutter, knife, or cookie cutter. Carefully transfer cookies to prepared cookie sheets. Repeat until all the dough is gone, then leave the raw cookies sitting out at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. If desired, drape wax paper or parchment loosely over cookies to avoid debris. As they sit, they will lighten in color as their imprints set in place. Preheat oven to 250 F. Bake the dried springerle for 40 to 50 minutes depending on size.
With a toothsome hint of cocoa and orange, these striking little cookies are a treat for the mouth and eyes alike. Their soft, tender centers stray from the crumbliness of traditional springerle, yet they still do just what the name implies: spring up in the oven and spring off the plate in a flash! Beautiful, delicious, and a little bit different: that’s my kind of dessert.
Maybe next time… To fancy these up, I’m already planning to serve my next batch in mini-cupcake liners. One could also use a small paintbrush to gently decorate the tops with more powdered sugar or edible glitter. In terms of flavor, the possibilities are nearly endless: try almost any flavored oil or extract in place of orange, and feel free to replace the cocoa with flour. I chose a small amount of cocoa and avoided speckled spices to ensure the design would come through, but there’s no reason to hold back your own baking instincts.
*I admit it: Without being anise-flavored, crisp, and pale white, these cookies probably shouldn’t be called springerle at all. But I’m doing so for simplicity; besides, the many springerle recipes I’ve seen vary greatly in baking temperature, drying time, and even ingredients.
I own a few Springerle molds and successfully made the authentic recipe, but it’s just not my favorite flavor combination. And yet the finished cookies are beautiful and elegant, so I’ve been on a hunt for a more palatable (for me) recipe. Your recipe sounds delicious, and I can’t wait to make it. Thank you for sharing. And now to my question… what’s the best way to make these cookies ahead and still maintain their intricate tops?
Hi Judy, thanks for stopping by, and for your openness to my unorthodox recipe! (These are definitely more tender and have a completely different flavor than traditional Springerle!).
I think one of the keys with maintaining the design is being sure to really let them dry after pressing/before baking, and then storing the baked cookies without stacking them if possible.
I found your recipe on Pinterest and was considering it as an alternative to the current springerle recipe I use. I’m in Jacksonville, FL and humidity is a major issue when making these. Regardless, I have sufficient success that I keep trying. Your recipe does not include any baking powder or hartshorn. Now do yours rise or “spring” up without it? just checking before I make the effort. Thanks for your advice.
Hi James, Thanks for stopping by. I admit that I’m not a springerle expert and haven’t made too many types, but yes: these springerle do spring up without the additional leavening, at least in my area (the San Francisco bay area, where it’s relatively humid but probably nothing compared to Jacksonville!). These are a little more tender/soft than traditional springerle. I really enjoy the mild cocoa and orange flavors together. Have you checked out springerlejoy.com? She has recipes, tips, videos, and many beautiful molds – if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth looking. Happy baking!
Thanks for getting back with me so quickly. I intend to give your version a try soon. In addition to springerlejoy, I also use House on the Hill as well. Excellent customer service from that lady!
just found your site. I was online looking for springerle molds and found the image of yours. It is fantastic!!!!! I’ve never seen anything like it!!! My grandmother used to make springerle cookies at Christmas and send them all across the country to all the kids and grandkids. I miss them so much and don’t know what happened to her molds.
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to share these kind words! What a wonderful history you have with springerle. My food memories with my own grandma are so vivid and meaningful. I do hope you find your grandmother’s molds or at least some that are reminiscent of them.
i’m so jealous of your killer springerele mold! i’ve been wanting to make these, but can’t justify the expen$e for a good mold. my Grams used to make these with pure anise oil we had to buy at the pharmacy…lol. hers were hard as rock and as kids we laughed at them. now, i miss her and those darn springereles. great post and love your idea of changing up the flavors.
Thanks so much, Jules! I do feel very lucky to have found such a steal on the mold, and I can definitely relate to missing my Grandma and what she cooked (even the things I didn’t like as I kid). I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your story and kind words!
P.S. I just found your blog — your photos are stunning and your creations look so delicious!
Those look amazing! What a find! They remind me of a Victorian kitchen, or even an imperial one. I am so glad you found that gem of a mold, and I love your updated take on Springerle!
Thanks so much, Cameron! I too love the “old world” feel of the mold and the cookies. Someday maybe I’ll even stick to the traditional recipe… if I can stand to. 🙂
Don’t you just love finding things like that? As for whether or not this should be springerle I wouldn’t know since I don’t even know how to say it, but I can say these look delicious & would really be impressive to serve for guests.
Yes — I love these sorts of finds! I’m also quite grateful for both your flexibility with the definition of springerle and for your kind words.
These cookies are really beautiful! And you got such a great deal on that Springerle mold – those can be quite expensive. The one you found has such a neat variety of insects and animals on it too – some of the molds I’ve seen only have insects, or only have animals! And yours has both! Great find…and lovely cookies!
Thank you very much, Erica! I do feel very lucky to have found the rare mold for such a steal… and especially to have your sweet comments here! 🙂
What beautiful and fun cookies and what an inspiring mold! I absolutely love this idea. Thank you!
Thank you so much, Hannelore! We should try making these with GF flour and see how they turn out. If the design doesn’t work, I bet they’d still taste good!
Wow — what a cool mold! Definitely unique and an absolute bargain at $3. As always, your designs and recipes are super inspiring.
Thanks so much, Emilie! Your kind words and encouragement have been more of an inspiration to me than you know.
I’m sure the reverse is true too!!
love these !