Pfeffernuesse

27 01 2010

Here’s a fun recipe from The Spice Cookbook (Avanelle Day and Lillie Stuckey, 1964). I made pfeffernuesse last year and again this year, and both times it came out great! It’s supposed to be a holiday cookie, but I think any dayou make

pfeffernuesse
“Pepper Nuts” or “Spice Nuts are English for this traditional German Christmas cooky.
3/4 cup strained honey
3/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1/4 cup shortening
1 large egg
—–
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom seed
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground anise seed

Heat honey and molasses (do not boil) in a saucepan large enough for mixing the dough. Add shortening. Cool. Beat in egg.

Sift remaining ingredients together and gradually stir in honey mixture. Let dough stand 30 minutes to stiffen enough to handle.

Moisten hands and shape dough into 3/4 inch balls. Bake on lightly greased cooky sheets in a preheated moderate oven (350ºF.) 13 to 15 minutes. Frost with Pffernusse Frosting. if a soft cooky is desired, store airtight.

In lieu of ground nutmeg, we used 3/4 teaspoon cloves. It worked out alright. These are a savory cookie, and the black pepper adds a little burn. Our cookies were a little on the big side too, around 1 inch or larger. I recommend trying to make them smaller.

This recipe I found online at The Spice House (after a very quick google search) recommends making them, “small balls the size of nuts.” Our recipe made 8 dozen, but the book says it should make 11 dozen. Maybe if we rolled them smaller…

pfeffernuesse Frosting
1 large egg white
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
—–
1-1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a 1-quart mixing bowl. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar with an electric or rotary beater. Place 12 to 14 pfeffernuesse and 2 tablespoons frosting, at a time, in a mixing bowl. Stir with a fork until all pfeffernuesses are lightly covered. Repeat using all cookies and frosting.

Lift out with a fork onto a wire cooling rack. Have a pan, wax paper, or foil underneath to catch frosting that drips through the wires. Let stand until frosting has hardened.

The frosting recipe says it makes enough for 9 dozen pfeffernuesse, which doesn’t match up with how many the cookie recipe says it can make. For 8 dozen cookies, we barely had enough frosting. Also, don’t forget for the frosting, the confectioners’ sugar has a thickening agent in it — usually corn starch or something like it — you can’t just use powdered sugar.

Speaking of powdered sugar, some recipes say to just roll them in powdered sugar. No, says I. I don’t like powdered sugar as a coating for cookies because it comes off on everything, and dries out your mouth. It feels chalky. When given the option, I prefer special glazes and frostings. Especially the pfeffernuesse frosting. I mean, it has its own recipe in a cookbook! How special is that? They’re basically saying, “You don’t get the full pfeffernuesse experience without the proper frosting.”

These are one of the cookies that apparently ages well. I love these! The spices mature over time, so they say. Says the author of the Spice House recipe:

The flavor gets better with age. Tradition has us making these the day after Thanksgiving so they are ready for Christmas. We store them in a pillow case and hide them, so they will last until the Christmas Season.

If you make them, tell me how they came out!

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