The St. Benedict Monastery of Ferdinand, Indiana was founded in 1867. For more than half that time, the sisters that live and work there have baked and sold cookies to support the Monastery. The cookies are so good, eating them is a near religious experience. As long as you like traditional German cookies, that is.
Springerle cookies originated in the Swabia region of southwestern Germany at the start of the Renaissance. Images and icons are pressed into the dough before baking, and then the dough is allowed to dry. Making a batch of springerles takes a long time. Sister Jean-Marie, the bakery manager, explains, “we start by mixing the dough and rolling it out. Then we use two sets of molds to make the impressions and then we cut out each cookie by hand and let them dry for twelve to eighteen hours on trays covered with flour.”
The extra time gives the cookie a hearty texture. They have a slight anise flavor without being overly sweet. Traditionally served for Christmas and Easter, they're great for dipping in coffee or to please the lovers of old world flavors. Well sealed, they'll keep for months. The longer they sit, the softer they get.
The wife of a friend is half Swabian, where the recipe for these cookies comes from, and she reports that these Springerle cookies are "very close" to the traditional cookie she remembers. Consider that a resounding endorsement!