This entry was prompted by the comment from Terri. Thanks, Terri, for bringing up this important question. Historically, Springerle cookies would not have been made until after the first hard freeze. Why? Simply because a hard freeze zaps the humidity out of the air and the cookies will keep better when the air temperature is cooler.There is certainly more leeway with this guideline now that most of us have air conditioning. The drier, cooler air facilitates the formation of the a thin crust on the top surface of the cookie which is what “sets” the embossed pattern on the top surface of the cookie. I make springerle cookies all year, but always try to avoid a rainy or very humid day, even with central air conditioning as a constant factor. If you must make them during more humid conditions, you should allow additional drying time, perhaps an 12-18 hours more. Sometimes, in a really humid climate such as Florida in summer, I might suggest that you turn your temperature gauge all the way down to 60 degrees F when you make the cookies.
Now, then about storage…..tightly sealed tins in a cool dry environment will allow you to keep the cookies for months. The cookies must be baked so that no doughiness remains after baking! You must make sure the cookies are completely cool before you pack them in layers with wax paper in between the layers. You want NO steam in the closed tin which may cause the cookies to mold. The cookies will “mellow” in storage and become drier. The “mellowing” is particularly important when you flavor the cookies by using only anise seed on the bottom surface of the cookie, but also a good idea for cookies flavored with anise oil. I think it is less important with the non-traditional flavors such as lemon and orange. Family tradition may dictate the dryness of the cookie that you prefer, which can vary the time that you might wish to mellow your cookies. Most people, by tradition, make their springerle around Thanksgiving time, allowing approximately 4 weeks of mellowing/drying time. For anise flavor, I would allow at least 2 weeks before serving, but I also like them as soon as they have cooled. The flavor will intensify with time, so if you need to serve them sooner, you may want to slightly increase your flavoring oil amount. In high humidity, the springerle may mold and you may consider freezing them in sealed zip bags.
It’s a great advantage to have a cookie that can be made well in advance of other baking demands. So take into account your particular weather, the date you need the springerle, your personal preferences and your available storage.