Connie Meisinger's traditional German springerle tied for third place in 1993. Meisinger's grandmother used to send her springerle packages in the mail, which signaled to her that Christmas was just around the corner. Her grandmother called them "dunkin'" cookies because they were perfect for dipping in coffee. At the competition, Meisinger said she started her own tradition of mailing the cookies to her friends and relatives.
- Standing time: 1 hour plus overnight
- Aging time: 1 week or more
- Yield: About 7 dozen 2-inch cookies
- 1/2 Teaspoon baker's ammonia, see sources
- 2 Tablespoons milk
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 11/2 Pounds confectioners' sugar, about 6 cups
- 1/2 Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon anise oil, see sources
- 1/2 Teaspoon salt
- 2 Pounds cake flour, sifted, about 8 cups
1. Mash baker's ammonia with a rolling pin if it is not powdered. Dissolve it in the milk in a small bowl and let stand 1 hour before using.
2. Beat eggs in large bowl of electric mixer until thick and lemon-colored, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until creamy and smooth. Add butter and beat again until creamy. Add anise oil, dissolved baker's ammonia and salt; beat to mix. Gradually beat in enough flour to make a stiff dough.
3. Cut off pieces of dough and work in more flour on a floured work surface until dough is stiff enough to roll out and hold the design of the springerle rolling pin or mold. Roll out on a lightly floured board with a floured rolling pin to 1/4-inch thickness. Press design on dough with a floured springerle rolling pin or mold. Cut cookies apart using a floured knife. Leave on work surface covered with a clean kitchen towel overnight.
4. The next day, heat oven to 325 degrees. Bake cookies on greased baking sheets, until barely golden on the bottom, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Store in tightly covered tins and allow to mellow at least 1 week before serving.
Note: This recipe also can be made using 11/2 teaspoons baking powder (in place of the milk and the baker's ammonia) and anise extract instead of anise oil. However, the cookies will not be as delicately textured and the anise flavor not quite as rich. If using baking powder, add it with the salt to the batter.