General Directions For Printing Cookies
Size and liquidity of eggs, flour, and weather can affect your dough. Use your senses to decide if the dough will print well without sticking. You may need to use less or more flour than the recipe states.
To Prevent Sticking
Brush flour or confectioner's sugar (use flour for cookies and confectioner’s sugar for candy) over mold with a clean, dry pastry brush to prevent sticking.
In some instances you may prefer to spray mold with non-stick spray or lightly coat with cooking oil (wiping with a paper towel); for example, to avoid a “floury” look on dark gingerbread, fondant or marzipan. Oiling molds may interfere with cookies forming a crust, which may cause the imprint to fade during baking. Do not grease and flour molds, as flour plugs the details.
Method #1 – For most cookies...
Dough will be rolled approximately 3/8” to 5/8” thick, like pie crust (deeper molds need thicker dough). Brush confectioner’s sugar or flour on the mold image, then imprint with your press (mold), cut out shape with knife or pastry wheel, dry and bake. Remember to “press and cut, press and cut” so that adjacent images are not distorted.
Method #2 – For very deep or large cookies...
Roll out dough to desired thickness and, using a dry, clean pastry brush, apply flour or sugar and cut a piece of dough the approximate size needed for the mold. Press dough into the mold with fingers, working from center outward. You may lightly roll the back side of the cookie to smooth before turning out of the mold. Trim, dry and bake. To check your print, use light from the side – daylight or light from a floor lamp – so the shadows let you see if your prints are good.
Most printed cookies are dried 2-24 hours before baking (depending on your schedule, humidity, etc.) Drying preserves the image during baking.
Test bake one cookie first! It saves grief!
Ovens vary widely! If your test cookie “over puffs” or tilts, reduce heat, put an empty cookie sheet on bottom oven shelf, or prop the oven door slightly ajar with handle of a wooden spoon to wick off heat. For tiny cookies, you may need the temperature set as low as 200 degrees. In general, the smaller the cookie, the lower the temperature. The larger the cookie the longer the baking time. See the baking discussion in our Frequently Asked Questions section
Flat areas of larger cookies are vulnerable to “bubbles” while baking. Simply press then down manually and finish baking.
Hartshorn (Ammonium Carbonate or Baker’s Ammonia)
Hartshorn is an old-time leavening unexcelled for any cookies and produces an especially light, delicate texture. Hartshorn is the traditional leavening for Springerle cookies. Hartshorn can be substituted for baking powder proportionately one-to-one in cookie or cracker recipes. Hartshorn is not affected by age, but it will evaporate.
Doughs made with hartshorn store well, as its leavening action is only triggered by heat, not moisture. There will be an ammonia smell during baking, but it will be baked out of your cookies. (It used to come in a form like rock salt, so old recipes instructed “crush with a rolling pin” then dissolve in liquid.)
Do not eat the raw dough. You must bake out the ammonia. Don't use hartshorn for cakes and breads. Use only for cookies and crackers when you know that the ammonia will be completely baked out.
Flavoring oils are very strong and pure in flavor. I highly recommend their use in Sprringerle cookies.
Don’t be alarmed if anise oil crystallize or congeal. Place the bottle in warm water until it is liquefied and shake.