Friday, December 13, 2013

2013 White House Holiday Recipe: Edible Springerle Cookies

Mrs. Obama & Yosses decorate Springerle cookies with children
From the White House to your house: Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses' recipe for the traditional molded holiday cookie...
The White House - The life-sized fireplace that is beneath this year's White House Gingerbread House created by Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and his team features more than 1,200 Springerle cookies.  Yosses has shared his recipes for both an edible version, reprinted below, and for a decorative version, available here

Created with a simple flour-butter-sugar dough baked in a mold, the cookies, made for centuries in Bavaria and Austria, feature images that tell family or holiday stories.  They were chosen to highlight First Lady Michelle Obama's holiday theme "Gather Around: Stories of the Season," said Yosses.  Mrs. Obama decorated Springerle cookies with kids from military families invited to be the first to view the White House decor on Dec. 4.

The Springerle tradition was brought to America by German immigrants who settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1710, Yosses said, noting that "each family had their own molds with images that told the stories of births, betrothals, and weddings."

The gingerbread house with Springerle cookies
For the fireplace beneath the gingerbread house, Yosses selected Christmas-themed molds purchased in Lancaster:  A wreath, a stag, a nutcracker, and Father Christmas himself.  There's also a mold that features a bee, a beehive and a beekeeper, a reference to the real beehive on the White House grounds, installed at Mrs. Obama's behest in 2009.

Edible Springerle cookies are traditionally flavored with anise, but Yosses says it is fine for home bakers to use any kind of flavored oil.  The cookies are traditionally white, so are baked on a low heat so they do not brown.  

To ensure the image is preserved during baking, the dough must dry for between 2-24 hours after it is removed from the molds; the longer the better.  Insulated cookie sheets will cause the cookies to brown when baking, and are not recommended.  Instead, line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  Allow cookies to cool completely before storing in a closed container.

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More than 1,200 Springerle cookies were used for the fireplace
White House Edible Springerle Cookies

*2 Pounds Sifted Cake Flour, plus more for dusting

*6 Cups Confectioner's Sugar

*1/2 Tsp Baking Powder

*1/2 Tsp Salt

*6 Large Eggs

*1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, softened

*2 Tblsp Whole Milk

*1/2 Tsp Flavored Oil

*1 Rind of Orange or Lemon (zest)

1.   In an electric mixer, beat eggs for 3 minutes until blended, but no more.

2.  Add soft butter, baking powder, milk, salt, flavored oil and zest.

3.  Turn mixer to slow speed and add flour, one cup at a time, just until blended.  

4.  Remove dough from bowl and finish by hand on a floured surface, working dough until it is stiff enough so an imprint will be made when put in mold.  Divide into four segments and wrap in plastic wrap.  Roll each segment out separately for the next steps.

5.  On a floured surface, roll dough out to 1/4 inch thick.  

6.  Cut a portion of dough about the size of the mold, then press mold into dough.  Trim excess with a knife, then coax dough out of mold and place onto cookie sheet.  

7.  Repeat, spacing each cookie about 1 inch apart on cookie sheet.

8.   Let dry, uncovered, 2-24 hours before baking.  The longer the drying time, the better.

9.  Bake at 250 degrees F for 20 minutes, placing one cookie sheet in the oven at a time.  If using smaller molds, bake at 200 degrees F for 15 minutes.

Number of cookies depends on size of molds used.

Detail of the Springerle images on the fireplace

*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan, except for top, by Amanda Lucidon/White House