I think when it comes to Mennonite food
there are as many recipes for each dish as there are Grandmothers.
My recipe for Pfeffernuesse is quite different than the ones posted previously.
These tiny cookies are quite hard and are meant to be sucked or dunked.
I was told that in years past, the grandmothers would bring them to church for the children to suck on - ensuring they would keep quiet during the sermon.
I like to bake them around this time of year so that the flavours have a chance to mellow
before serving them in December.
However, once my family knows I've made them, they disappear by the handfuls.
The original recipe is a very large one - I think it usually makes about 3 ice cream buckets full. I've halved the recipe to make it easier for smaller families.
Speaking from experience, it's good to read the whole recipe through once before starting.
- 2 cups golden cane syrup (in Canada it is made by Rogers) this has a unique flavour somewhat different than regular corn syrup.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup margarine
- 1 cup milk
- Place above ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.
- Cool to room temperature.
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (yes that's right)
- 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground star anise
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 7-8 cups flour
It's a good time to invite someone to help - there are a lot of very small cookies to put on the pans.
- Add egg and extracts to sugar syrup mixture, mixing well.
- Into a large mixing bowl, sift together 4 cups of the flour with the spices and baking powder.
- Pour liquid mixture over and mix thoroughly.
- Continue adding flour - dough will be sticky and still somewhat soft.
- Cover bowl with lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 5 days.
- Spoon out about 1 - 2 cups dough, leaving remainder in fridge.
- On a floured board or pastry sheet, roll into long logs about the thickness of your index finger.
- Cut into 1/2 inch pieces and place on parchment paper covered cookie sheets. (this makes it much easier to remove the cookies after baking.)