This recipe is a modified version of Nini's Perfection Springerle Cookies from House on the Hill with the addition of my own herbs. The major suggestion is for how to gild them after they are baked. I am using mostly German molds from both Freiburg and Bavaria, both old and new. It is so wonderful to make new friends while sourcing ingredients for these cookies. Some history about this cookie from Gode Cookery, "The name Springerle comes from an old German dialect and means 'little knight' or 'jumping horse.' Historians trace these cookies back to the Julfest, a midwinter celebration of pagan Germanic tribes. Julfest ceremonies included the sacrificing of animals to the gods, in hope that such offerings would bring a mild winter and an early spring. Poor people who could not afford to kill any of their animals gave token sacrifices in the form of animal-shaped breads and cookies. " I thought the cinnamon oil and schnapps (Goldschlager's) would make a very festive and spicy gilded finish. Wish I could find an amazing cinnamon liqueur I had in Portugal in the US for these! Happy New Year; Frohes Neues! —Sagegreen
Dissolve hartshorn in the buttermilk and let sit for 30 minutes.
Beat eggs until they become thick, lemony in color, and almost four times bigger in volume.
Beat in the powdered sugar slowly, followed by the butter.
Add the hartshorn/milk mixture, then the cinnamon oil, salt, zest, fennel, and optional lavender. Do not eat the dough raw with the hartshorn (baker's ammonia).
Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Turn dough onto a floured surface and add the remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Knead in enough flour so the dough will make a good impression with the molds.
Roll out the dough to about 5/8 inch thick. Dust the molds with flour. Roll the dough on top of the molds so it is about 1/4 inch thick (but if you have a mold with depth, then it can be thicker). Peel the dough off. Follow the imprinting and release directions for your particular molds. Let the cookies dry for 12-24 hours preferably in a 65 degree area. If you want to use these as decoration, you can make a hole in your cookie, as some examples show.
Bake on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets in a 300 to 325 degree oven for 10-30 minutes, depending upon the cookie size. They should only brown very lightly on the bottom. Cool on cookie rack.
With fine paintbrushes dip into the gold luster dust. Then dip into the cinnamon schnapps to create your paint. Brush on the cookie. I have used the schnapps almost plain to give a varnished background to some of the cookies. When dry, store in air-tight containers. The cookies will taste best in 3 weeks. If they harden too much add a bit of apple on a piece of bread to the container. They should soften. Photos show some before baking, some after baking, some after gilding. Food coloring is also used on some with gilding. Enjoy!