Springerle cookies date back to 14th century Switzerland. Wooden Springerle cookie molds were used to press biblical designs onto cookies, marking the beginning of cookie decoration. The designs were developed as a way to teach children Bible stories. Later, the cookies would be decorated with secular scenes depicting life events, such as marriages and births.
One of Germany's most famous Christmas sweets, the anise-flavored springerle are beautiful embossed cookies that originated centuries ago in the German duchy of Swabia. The embossed designs on the cookie's surface are formed with a special carved wooden rolling pin, which, when rolled over the dough, imprints it decoratively. Alternatively, the dough can be pressed into a carved cookie mold. Once the dough is imprinted with the design, the cookies are allowed to sit out at room temperature overnight. This allows the dough's surface to dry so the design will remain as the cookie bakes.