Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Nuclear Cookies and a Supply List for Ann Grant

My mom is having a great time this December, her first "free" December in twenty years. She worked at a department store in Omaha and just retired in January. So, she's busy catching up on twenty years of cookie baking and merry making. She dusted off an old recipe of my Grandma Carmen's for Springerles...German Cookies/Biscuits that call for a very special (a.k.a. "weird") ingredient.

Baking Ammonia. Baking. AMMONIA.

My mom has had her current little vial of Baking Ammonia for almost 40 years. It's a little green glass bottle with white crystals inside. When I was a child, out of curiosity, I uncapped the vial one day and took a big whiff. And I just about fell off the stool I had dragged over to the cupboard where the spices were kept. It really does smell like...ammonia.

Baking Ammonia is used in items that are rolled flat and it leaves almost no flavor (unlike Baking Soda, which will add a slightly bitter taste to cookies; the more you add, the more bitter they taste.) Mom did a lot of research to see if 40-year-old Baking Ammonia was safe. A pharmacist told her it has a very long shelf life, and as long as it still bubbled in a little milk, it was good. Mom made the cookies, and to be sure she ate one first before giving any to her friends. I had joked: "Does the recipe also call for weapons-grade plutonium?" If she starts glowing at night, we'll know it was the cookies.

Anyway, here's the recipe. You can easily find Springerle rolling pins online. And the Baking Ammonia is also an ingredient you can order on the Internet. But you're going to have to supply your own elbow grease.

Grandma Carmen's Springerles

8 eggs
4 cups sugar
pinch salt
1/4 tsp Baking Ammonia
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
7 cups flour
Anise seeds

Beat eggs 15 minutes. Add sugar and salt and beat for 20 minutes more. Dissolve Baking Ammonia and Baking Soda in 1 Tbsp. warm milk. Add to above mixture and stir well. Gradually add the flour on a slow speed.

Sprinkle lightly-greased cookie sheets with anise seeds. You will need 4 large cookie sheets. Using additional flour, roll out the dough to 1/4"-1/2" and cut into squares. (Press lightly with a mold or your Springerle rolling pin, if you're lucky enough to have one).

Place on cookie sheets and cover with kitchen towels over night in a cool place (or at least 10 hours). Bake at 325 only until the bottom of the cookie is LIGHTLY browned. Do not over-bake. It might only take six or seven minutes. As soon as they are cool, place them in tightly-covered containers, separating the layers with waxed paper.

People are almost wetting themselves over Ann Grant's sampler (above.) It is graphed. The supplies have now been sent to the model stitcher, and we will all have to patiently wait for dear Kathy to stitch the darn thing. I thought I'd post a list of supplies for y'all, just in case anyone wants to be absolutely ready to get started on this when it's done. It's going to be lovely.

Stitch count: 293 by 347 -- Fabric is 32 count Vintage Sand Dune (Lakeside Linens)

Gloriana Silk Floss: Schoolhouse Red, Pecan
Thread Gatherer Silk N Colours: Camelot's Lady, Potter's Clay
Belle Soie: Chocolat, Baguette
Au Ver a Soie: 2635, 3812, 3431, 3745, 3815
Needlepoint Silk: 993, 222

It is possible you will need more than one skein of a few of these...I won't know for sure until the model is stitched. I will also be doing a conversion to Sampler Threads and to DMC floss. Autumn Gold linen by Lakeside Linens would be absolutely gorgeous for this ... I hated to choose that color, because Pat has to dye that color twice, and there's going to be a stampede for linen when this comes out. I do have a list of people who have pre-ordered the sampler graph. Feel free to hop on the Ann Grant boat.

In personal news...just to catch up a little...we have a new cat. You might remember we had to put dear Abigail to sleep a few weeks ago. Steve found another cat (I am certainly outnumbered.) Her name is Giblet (we adopted her the day after Thanksgiving, so she is named for "the edible offal of a fowl, typically the heart, gizzard, liver and other visceral organs." Steve's mom makes giblet gravy every year (VERY English). I don't eat the gravy, but I do like our little Giblet. I'll post a picture soon. (She's a "mutt," but looks like a Russian Blue.)

Also, I am busy stitching on a Christmas stocking for my nephew Tate (it's an original design that I will release next year. Will post a picture when it's done.) And I have some ornament finishing to do yet. I actually am looking forward to doing some holiday stitching when I take a few days off next week for Christmas. Mom and Dad will be here from South Carolina...maybe she'll bring me some nuclear cookies?


diamondc said...

Wetting myself I started biting my nails again, I am looking forward to this pattern, thank-you for beautiful reproductions.
Merry Christmas

Peggy Lee said...

Oh you know I had to read about your "nuclear" cookies. My first thought was that you used boxed milk. We keep some of that in our pantry for emergencies.

Love that sampler! Beautiful!!

Giblet is a wonderful name for the new addition to your family. I am sorry to hear about your former kitty.

Hope you have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Robin~Samplerbird said...

Congrats on your new family member, Giblet. What a cute name! I found the information about baking amonia interesting as I had never heard of it before. And I am looking forward to meeting Ann Grant, up close and personal. Love the red tones in this one!

Cindy said...

The sampler is awesome!

I had never heard of baking ammonia before. It does sound scary, and I'm sure I would have a bit of trouble eating something if someone told me that was in there beforehand...especially 40 year old ingredients LOL :)

Kristen said...

I hadn't heard about baking ammonia either, but baking is chemistry after all. :)

Congratulations on your new fuzzball! ;)

Paulette said...

Ann is at the TOP of my list, that's for certain! What a stunning sampler!

I had to laugh at the ammonia story.. I ordered some a couple of years ago to make springerle, and I, too, took a big whiff out of curiosity. Good thing I wasn't a cat. Yow!


anniebeez said...

LOVE the springerle cookies!! Have you seen the awesome cookie molds at houseonthehill.com for springerle cookies? I think your mom needs a mold or two for Christmas!
Can't wait for Ann Grant!

Sherry :o) said...

Breathtaking, Ann Grant is! I will be awaiting it with more than bitten nails, wetting of thy-self and dreaming of it nightly! Springerles are one of my husband's favorites, unfortunately it gives him indigestion now and he can't eat them - they are good, but I like them once in awhile. Your new furry friend is very cute! Can't wait for the fabric of the month to start - we're almost there!! Enjoy your Christmas and stitch happy :0)

Anonymous said...

I alo absolutely love springerle cookies and use baker's ammonia (a.k.a. hartshorn because it was originally made from the ground horn of the hart--German for deer). You might also be interested that if you decide to taste your dough before the b.a. has baked out you may experience mild to not-so-mild digestive problems. This of course depends on will power. I never knew I had any before baking with this cool little ingredient. :-) Thanks for sharing with us.