Indiana: German Springerle cookies inspired by a rolling pin

If you are just joining this 2017 adventure, Jeremy and I have challenged ourselves to produce one terrific cookie recipe from each of the 50 states.  Each week, we draw a state name and go off in search of an interesting cookie recipe.  This week, I added Indiana to my group of states.  I have baked my way through New JerseyAlaska, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Alabama.

My choice to bake Springerle cookies was a no-brainer.  Joanne, my co-worker and a German teacher, had surprised me with the gift of a wooden Springerle rolling pin just the week before. When I drew “Indiana,” my first internet search referenced two religious organizations that make traditional Springerle cookies:   I had never heard of the cookies; although, when I searched online, I recognized the unique designs.  Springerle cookies are white, rectangular cookies that have an embossed design–Springerle means ”little jumper” or “little knight,” because of the commonly represented design.

In Indiana, there are several bakeries, including one at the Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand, Indiana, that make the cookies.  There is a bakery that specializes in all things German, including a huge collection of gnomes:  The Heidelberg Haus.  I may decide to order the cookies so I can see what they are supposed to take like.

I set out to make these traditional cookies.  I started by ordering “Bakers Ammonia,” a pre-baking soda era item because several recipes called for that.  I didn’t use it, though, because there were many recipes that didn’t require the traditional item.  Here’s the problem. There are two types of Springerle cookie recipes:  easy and difficult.  I chose easy.  Easy did not taste great.  I suspect that the cookies must be made with a lot more love than I devoted to them. Unfortuantely, mine were crunchy and nearly inedible.

Here’s Martha Stewart’s recipe.  I did not use this one, but if I were to try again, I would try this one.

Here are some recipes on All Recipes.  (The cookies were not light and delicate, but I suspect that is not the fault of the recipe–I need a tutorial.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 50-state Christmas Cookie Challenge: Chicago Public Schools Butter Cookie Recipe

butter-cookie-finalAfter five years of Merry Christmas partnership, Jeremy and I decided we needed something to inspire us to revitalize The Yule Log 365.  Jeremy saw a list of 50 Christmas cookies unique to the 50 states and sent it to me through Facebook. It was an interesting list, and it gave us the idea that we should launch a challenge for ourselves–50 weeks of cookies, state by state.

Here’s our plan.  Every two weeks, Jeremy and I will draw two states from a reindeer-decorated jar.  Each of us will research and bake a Christmas cookie, connected to that state, in the 14-day window.  Then, individually, we will post our results and the recipes, offering a review of the cookies and their potential for being added to your favorites for Christmas 2017.

I pulled Illinois.  To be honest, I was thinking of a state a little more exotic–Alaska, Hawaii, Alabama.  A search of Illinois cookies revealed multiple hits for “Chicago Public Schools Butter Cookie Recipe.”  That intrigued me because I am a public school teacher, and I love the cookies our cafeteria employees bake.  Many people referenced the nostalgia of the smell and taste of these cookies.  I found a video on YouTube that illustrates the very simple steps.

To celebrate Illinois and my cookie choice, I invited my dear friend Lauren Vint to bake our recipe.  The ingredients are simple–deceptively simple for a Christmas cookie.

Chicago Public Schools Butter Cookie ingredients.

Chicago Public Schools Butter Cookie ingredients.

We used the KitchenAid mixer, which is an excellent mixer, but I don’t know if we got “cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy” to the degree that it should have been creamed. I remember my grandmother describing the creaming process as key to success, and often she used her hands to incorporate and melt the sugar and butter. I think the batter was a little sticky, and pressing the cookies down with a glass dipped in sugar was challenging.

The baking time was exact, and the cookies were a beautiful golden brown around the edges.  Plain, but pretty.  The taste was satisfying, but not spectacular.  These are good butter cookies, but I wonder if I should have used salted butter, rather than  unsalted.  The taste was a not quite as rich as I had expected, and the aftertaste was not memorable.

I think the cookie would be more excellent if it was frosted–more like a sugar cookie.  Maybe I just like more sweet than the simple cookie delivers. Maybe I need to be the student product of Chicago Public Schools?  I am saving some butter cookies for Jeremy to taste and pronounce his judgement.

I’m looking forward to 49 more weeks of cookie adventure.  Does anyone have any experience with this recipe?  Tell us what you think.