Alright, so the actual line in Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory” is “[I]t’s fruitcake weather, Buddy!” But … I’m not a fan of fruitcake and I love springerlies so I’ve made a little recipe substitution a la Truman Capote.
Springerlies are German Christmas cookies that are a Schneiter family tradition. My great-grandparents on my father’s side immigrated to America from Germany in the late 1800’s or maybe early 1900’s and died before I was born, but I do have faint childhood memories of PawPaw (my grandfather) making springerlies at his farm in Louisville, Kentucky, and very clear memories of my dad making springerlies every Christmas wherever we/he lived.
My sister and I now carry on the tradition and I learned yesterday from our cousin who has recently moved from Chicago to Tennessee, that she once bought springerlies from a bakery in Schaumberg, Illinois. Buy springerlies?? That was enough to cause me to do a Google search which led me to discover this – http://www.springerliehouse.com. Sweet!
So what are they? Well, they’re really just a mixture of flour, eggs, butter, sugar and anise seed or anise oil which lends the cookie a certain licorice flavor. The dough is rolled to about 1/4 inch thickness with a special wooden rolling pin (you can also use a mold). Once rolled, the cookies are cut and left in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours before baking. After about 10-12 minutes in a 350 degree oven, you’ve got yourself a pan of delightful little “picture cookies.”
There are several springerlie recipes readily available on the internet, but generally speaking, most springerlies are hard on the outside and have a little “springiness” on the inside. They partner well with a hot cup of coffee. You’ve heard of Dunkin’ Donuts? Springerlies are the ultimate Dunkin’ Cookies. Oh, and some people paint them which can make them look a lot like Christmas tree ornaments, although we Schneiters always skipped the painting step and just got right to the eating.
Family holiday traditions such as this provide connection, links to your past, comfort, and a sense of belonging. Whatever your family roots or whatever you celebrate this holiday season, I hope you find something in your ancestry which makes you feel all warm and cozy inside.
Frohliche Weihnachten! Or, as the Brits on my mom’s side of the family would say, Merry or Happy Christmas!