Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pfeffernüsse Cookies

      Pfeffernüsse originate in Scandinavia and date from medieval times when spices were used exclusively in holiday baking Pfeffernüsse (also spelled pfeffernuesse in English, in Danish: pebernødder (plural), päpanät in Plautdietsch, and pepernoten in Dutch; singular Pfeffernuss) are small, firm, round biscuits, sometimes with ground nuts. 
      The name translates to pepper nuts in German, Danish and Dutch, describing their spicy taste as well as the fact that many recipes actually call for almonds or walnuts. Bahlsen's pfeffernüsse has no added nuts. Despite the name they do not necessarily contain black pepper.
A plate of pfeffernüsse.
      Pepernoten are originally a Dutch treat, baked during 'Sinterklaas', a feast on 5 December (6 December in Belgium and Germany) on which little children receive gifts from the holy St. Nicholas, the partial inspiration for Santa Claus. In Germany, Pfeffernüsse are traditionally made during the Christmas season. 
      These recipes often call for the dough to be rounded into a ball. Today they are sometimes produced with a chocolate base. Like most baked goods, there are many variations of pfeffernüsse. While most recipes call for cloves and cinnamon, some also use nutmeg or anise. A Danish recipe for pebernødder requires white pepper, while most recipes don't use pepper at all. Some versions of pfeffernüsse contain pecans, ginger, or cardamom. Pfeffernüsse are extremely hard when they are first baked. For at least a week, it is difficult to bite into them without first dunking into a beverage. However, they soften with age. 
      In Germany they are also known as "Pimpernüsse" in some places, and are traditionally given out at Martinisingen. They are very popular at church concert receptions, especially around Christmas time.   
      Pfeffernüsses are often confused with Russian tea cakes because they are a similar shape and are both generally covered in powdered sugar, but Pfeffernüsses are much more bitter owing to fewer refined ingredients.

  • 1/2 cup of soft butter
  • 3/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon licorice flavored liqueur
  • 3 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cloves
  • 1 dash of black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • powdered sugar for dusting the cookies
Procedure: First preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease the cookie sheets. Then beat the butter and sugar together until the mixture is creamy. Beat into this mixture the molasses, egg and liqueur until the mixture is fluffy. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients, then mix together both the dry and wet ingredients. Shape the dough into small tablespoon sized balls and bake. Raw dough balls should be placed approximately 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets and these should be finished baking after 12-14 minutes. Cool the cookies on the cookie sheets. Dust the cookies thoroughly with powdered sugar and store them in airtight containers after they have cooled completely. 

More Pfeffernüsse:

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