Friday, October 30, 2009

Foodie Friday

I pretend to being a foodie.  I like good food, but my cooking repertoire is not as varied as I would like it to be.  Perhaps that has to do with my children's, and, for that matter, husband's, limited tastes.  Mr. Wild is much more adventurous than he used to be, but there are many dislikes of his that limit my cooking and many of my childhood foods do not get made because he just doesn't like it (chicken divan comes to mind as being one of the dishes I miss on occasion).

But today is about some lovely items with which I created a new tradition in my own little family.  And it's about time to start making them for the holidays.  In fact, I have geared up by buying some supplies for the season.  They can be kind of a pain in the butt to make, but are so gorgeous and yummy to boot.  My own brother is perfectly satisfied with two tinsful of them for his Christmas present.

Oh, but where are my manners?  Let me introduce springerle cookies to you:

They are actually very tiny.  This one is about 1 inch by 2 inches or so.  They are made using molds.

Look at the detail.  There's even steam from the cup.  You can barely see it in my actual cookie, but it is there.  The mold picture is from the enabler website from where I get most of my supplies.  I just put in for a new mold.  Mr. Wild was like, "Oh, well, Merry Christmas to you!"  But it was a really good deal, because you get 6 different cookie designs for $30, when many single molds are at least $24. So he said, "Were you getting tired of all the designs you had?"  Well, yes I was.

Here's my new mold.  I can hardly wait!

That and I got hartshorn (baker's ammonia) and orange oil for flavoring.  I already have almond oil in stock.  My brother and son love the almond flavors (my favorite, too), but Willa and Mr. Wild like the orange flavor.  And one year I got creative crazy and brushed the backs of the orange flavored ones with dark chocolate.  Oh, that was decadent!

So by now you're wondering about the recipe.  I could retype the whole thing here, but I use the House on the Hill recipe all the time, in the booklet where they give loads of hints and tips on how to make them.  My method may be slightly different than yours based on weather, humidity, oven temperment, and so forth, so, for me to put in my recipe is pointless.  And it changes all the time depending on the flavors.  But I would recommend the following:
  1. Don't skip the hartshorn.  It really is so much better than the baking powder.
  2. Do experiment with one or two cookies when baking in the oven.  You don't want them to overpuff and size of the cookie can make it change drastically.  I have a large hornbook mold and the small coffee cup and both react differently.  I bake low and slow most times.
  3. Adjust your oven temperature a lot!  Use the tricks they offer in the tips and hints.  It really makes a difference.
  4. Use real flavoring oils (and do not pour them into or onto anything plastic.  I poured it on something plastic and it kind of melted it).  Extracts are not strong enough.
  5. Try to dry out the cookies for 24 hours if you can, but a couple hours will do fine as well.  Some drying time is necessary to help "set" the print.
The molds are not cheap, but buy a big one with several cookie designs on it for cost effectiveness.  I've never tried the rolling pins, so I can't say how easy they are to work with.  I prefer pressing them in.  This insanity all started when I was introduced to them while working at an 1880s German American living history farm.  I used to live near where the House on the Hill company is based and I would go in person to their store to buy "seconds" at a lesser price.  They were no less beautiful and it's amazing walking in and seeing the shelves full of all the gorgeous molds.  So addictive, you wish you had one of each.  When I first started, as I understood it, they were the only importer of these fine molds, made of resins, many copied from historic examples.  They have even been featured in Martha Stewart Living.

I am leaving you with a few more photos of my previous work.  The frenzy has yet to begin this year.  I am awaiting my new mold.

These are orange flavored which are enhanced by using fresh orange peel in the batter.

This says "Merry Christmas" in German.



You can find this mold here.

Both the wreath and the house were seconds. The wreath is discontinued.


Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I love the details. I could picture making these and being quite proud of myself.

And I hate it when my family holds back my cooking choices. soemtimes I just make what I like and if they don't they have to forage for themselves that night. Then I package up dinner in individual protions and save it just for me.

Aliceson said...

How beautiful! That looks like a fun cookie to make although I know that I would want lots of molds too. My husband already thinks I have too much kitchen stuff.

I haven't thought too much about Holiday baking yet other than stocking upon butter, sugar and flour.

Have a great Halloween!

Margaret aka: Fact Woman said...

The last thing I needed was more baking crap but these are so amazing, I'm off to find a mold and the baking ammonia. I'll let you know how they turn out. Yours are beautiful.

McMom said...

These are so beautiful. I'm impressed. The molds themselves are beautiful,and of course you needed a new one!