Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Cookies that Tell a Story...Tanya Hanson

When I was asked to contribute to the Christmas anthology, Wishing for a Cowboy, I jumped at the chance.

When I found out the theme was a Christmas food, my gram’s springerle cookies just jumped into my head!

I clearly remember the lemony yet licorice-y taste of these little “picture cookies” from my childhood, but more than that, I remember just dreaming over the rolling pin. So in my story Covenant, I have my hero Carsten Green carving cookie molds and a rolling pin from events of his mail-order bride Ella's life. 

Sadly, my gram's springerle recipe disappeared over time, a well as her story-telling rolling pin. But King Arthur Flour has generously given permission to use their recipe and pictures.

I’m seriously thinking about Amazon-priming a rolling pin of my own and trying out the recipe this Christmas! I know, I know I better get started!

From my homestead to yours, Merry Christmas in Jesus’ name. And may all your dreams come true in 2014!

SPRINGERLE RECIPE, used with permission:

3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon anise oil, lemon oil, or flavor of your choice
anise seed (optional)

tips from our bakers

To get the lovely scalloped edges like in the photo, simply use a pastry crimper/cutter to cut your cookies apart. So pretty!

1) Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line them with parchment.
2) In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, salt, confectioners' sugar and flavor for 5 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is very light and falls in thick ribbons from the beater.
3) Gradually beat in the flour to form a stiff dough.
4) Transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface and knead with your hands for several minutes — it will seem dry at first, but will become smooth as you work with it. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes or so.
5) To shape cookies using a springerle pin: Dust your work surface lightly with flour. Divide the dough in half and work with one piece at a time, leaving the other piece covered. Use a regular rolling pin to roll the dough into a 1/4"-thick rectangle, roughly the same size as your springerle pin.
6) Use a pastry brush to brush a very light coating of flour onto the dough. Flour your springerle pin, then give it a couple of sharp raps to knock off excess. Slowly roll the springerle pin over the dough, pressing down hard enough to leave a good impression. Cut the cookies apart on the lines, with a pizza wheel or sharp knife.
7) To shape cookies using a springerle mold: Lightly dust your work surface. Dust the mold with flour, then tap it firmly to remove excess. Divide the dough in half and work with one piece of dough at a time, leaving the other covered. Roll the dough into a 1/4"-thick square or rectangle
8) Press the lightly floured mold firmly into the dough. Remove the mold and cut around the design with a knife. Repeat until all the dough is cut.
9) Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets. If you're using anise seed, sprinkle it on the cookie sheet or the parchment before laying down the cookies, giving them extra flavor. They'll also raise the cookies just a bit, allowing air to circulate around the bottom, drying them thoroughly.
10) Set the unbaked cookies aside to dry at room temperature, uncovered, for 24 hours. Turn them over once during the drying time to allow the bottoms to dry.
11) Preheat the oven to 275°F.
12) Bake the cookies for 25 to 30 minutes, until they're firm but not brown. (If the cookies are a bit puffy, and the design isn't as sharp as you'd like, bake the next batch at 250 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.) Remove them from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool completely.
13) Store the cookies in an airtight container. To keep them from becoming rock hard, we suggest placing a piece of soft bread, a slice of apple, or a cookie softener in the container with them.
Yield: 2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies.

Wishing for a Cowboy anthology 


  1. I love the look of these special cookies. But to make them? Or any kind of cookie? I think I've given up my cookie baking career.
    These cookies are intriguing because of the story telling. It's a shame you lost your own recipe, but generous of the flour company to help you out. Wonderful.
    And Merry Christmas in Jesus's name to you, too, Tanya, and you family.

  2. Hi Celia, thanks for the wonderful wishes. I eel a big rushed and hectic today but maybe it's the caffeine LOL. Yeah, my gram is probaby my life's greatest hero. I wish I could tell her that.

    I don't bake much either but I think I'm gonna do "gingie-bread" men wiht the grandbabies. It's a pre-made mix though LOL.

  3. These cookies remind me of my Danish grandmother who made cookies that would belt in your mouth. She called them Spritz. I do have her recipe and think of her whenever I make them. She always made them in the shape of a J and a S and kept them in large canning jars.

  4. Hi paisley, these sound delicious. Springerle are kinda hard as I remember, and they last for a long time. I love stuff that melts in your mouth.

    We have a Danish "daughter"--our beloved exchange daughter from a few years ago. I'll have to see if she knows these!

    hugs and Merry Christmas.

  5. That is great that you experienced a Danish exchange daughter. We had a Swedish exchange daughter and we still think of her as a daughter. She taught us about St. Lucia day and some of her Christmas customs.

  6. Hi Paisley, the local university just had their Santa Lucia festival! They pick a senior girl and she wears the lit-up headdress in a paraocession. We didn't go but the newspaper featured it and the history behind St. Lucia.

  7. Fascinating, Tanya! I never saw or even heard of a picture rolling pin before. The cookies are beautiful and I bet they taste heavenly. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  8. Very cool. My dad talked about these cookies and I tried making them once but without much success. I was 15 at the time. I still have the rolling pin my grandmother used so I'll have to give your recipe a try. Thanks so much. My grandmother was German and I don't think her recipe had the lemony touch to it.

  9. Oh and I forgot. My grandmother always dunked them in coffee. I think that's why they were hard. They were intended as a "dunking" cookie.

  10. Hi Lyn, oh, I would just dream about that rolling pin and lovingly touch the carvings LOL. I think it ended up with an aunt in Washington...ah well. I got Gram's bedroom furniture and antique manger scene so I am content.

    I haven't yet had the courage to try these...I shy away from recipes with more than six ingredients LOL. Thanks for posting today!

  11. Hi Ciara, thanks for the info! I learned while researching the story that yes, the cookies are better after they are "cured" for a while...they last for weeks. But if you eat them sooner, they are kinda regular texture. I do hope to have time to try even though I'll probably hold off on ordering a rolling pin.

    Thanks for stopping by~

  12. I just finished reading The Covenant and I loved it. I like the artistry of making your own cookie molds as you wrote in the story. The recipe sounds so good. I have to try it. All the best to you, Tanya.
    Happy Holidays!

  13. I love the sentiment in your story—a husband carving a cookie molds and a roller for his wife. I'm so sorry you grandmother's roller and utensils disappeared. Do you think maybe a relative has it and has forgotten? I hope that decorative roller didn't get sold at a garage sale.

  14. You might look at an antique shop for the rolling pin. Sometimes you can find things like that at a reasonable cost. Mine isn't Christmassy. It has a fish, a bird, a seed pod, etc. I need to get brave again and try to make them. Maybe on Christmas break, eh?

  15. I missed getting in on this yesterday. Sorry. I'd never heard of these cookies until you wrote about them in your story. I don't know if you watched HGTV's Christmas tour of the White House last week, but I found it interesting that the bakers made some of these cookies and put them around a gingerbread fireplace. It was so cool.

    Wishing you lots of success! Can't wait to see what you come up with in HEARTS AND SPURS.

  16. Hi Sarah, your good wishes mean so much. And it's always such an honor when other authors like my work. Thanks kindly, my friend. xo

    Merry Christmas.

  17. Hi Linda, yeah, the carving thing just came to me. True inspiration, I guess. My mom is 94 and in long-term car but still pretty sharp...she thinks an aunt (her sister in law) in Washington may have made off with it. I'll do some investigating for sure!

    Thanks for the good words, Linda

  18. Hi Linda, I missed the special! Last year it so inspired me I was gonna try to sign up to volunteer to decorate. Maybe next time. I hope I can find a repeat of it somewhere. Now I have an even more compelling reason to watch. Thanks for much for your good wishes, my friend. Hearts and Spurs has a heroine disguising herself as a man so she can be a sad when she's falling in love with the sheriff who thinks she's a guy. Sigh.

    Thank God for snowstorms! xoxox


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