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Sr. Jean Marie Ballard, Sisters of St. Benedict, Monastery Baked Goods

“There have been Sisters in the community making Springerle Cookies for more than 140 years.”

Even though the cookies date back a century, the Sisters of St. Benedict didn’t start their cookie business until a few years ago.

“We’ve sold the cookies in our gift shop at the monastery for over 10 years,” Sister Jean Ballard says. “We noticed that whatever we baked, we sold out of early. So we created a business plan and went from there.”

The Sisters bake three varieties of cookies, all with a Benedictine history. The Springerle is a traditional German cookie that in reminiscent of the taste of an Old World Christmas, according to the sisters of German lineage. The square cookie is very time intensive to make, and has a crisp on the outside, soft on the inside texture when it is finished.

The Almerle is a round cookie that has the texture of a Springerle, but the taste of almonds. The molds used for the Almerle are copies of those brought from Germany by one of the early sisters.

“Springerles have a strong anise oil smell. A couple of years ago, we substituted almond oil for the anise and people really liked it,” says Sister Jean.

The Hildegard Cookies are named after a Benedictine abbess who was known, among other things, as a scientist and healer. Her spice cookie recipe was said to slow the aging process and “encourage a cheerful countenance.”

The Sisters of St. Benedict value craftsmanship and that is partially what drew them to the Indiana Artisan program. The other reason? To expand their business as a way to support the monastery.

“Baking is an ages old craft and it’s fallen by the wayside for a lot of folks for various reasons,” says Sister Jean. “Food is universal. Talking about the cookies helps us talk about our way of life and our community.”