Christmas is around the corner and it's time to be thinking of making Pfeffernuese. This is a great recipe to make with a friend. It takes half the time and is twice the fun.
There's a bit of history to these tiny spiced cookies.
I remember being told that Mennonite grandmothers used to keep a few peppernuts in their purses during church services. When the children would become a bit noisy or restless, they would pop one of these hard nuggets into their mouths and the necessity of sucking the hard cookie and the surprising spiciness would distract the child and silence was achieved.
There are many recipes for Peffernuesse but this is my favourite. My friend Delores gave me this recipe and over the years, I've adjusted the spices to my liking. I make them at the beginning of November so they have time to ripen.
They are always number one on the list of Christmas favourites at our house and are a bit addictive.
It's a big recipe and I have often only made half of it. However if you make the whole recipe, you can pack the Pfeffernuesse in pretty Christmas tins to give as gifts.
- Here is the recipe I use - it is easily halved if the whole amount is intimidating.
- Be sure to read the recipe through before starting.
- Combine the above ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Let mixture cool completely before continuing.
- Beat eggs in a small bowl and add extracts. Set aside.
- Place 7 cups flour in a large mixer bowl.
- Add spices and baking powder and stir until completely blended with flour.
- Add syrup mixture to the flour, stirring well until blended.
- Add beaten egg mixture and continue to stir until blended.
- Continue to add flour until dough thickens but remains sticky. You will still be able to stir it with a wooden spoon however it will take a bit of strength.The amount of flour may vary depending on your flour and the amount of humidity. Please note that the dough will harden considerably once it has been refrigerated so be careful not to add too much flour.
- Refrigerate dough overnight or for several days.
- Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper. These cookies will stick to the pan however if you use parchment paper, they will just slide right off and you can reuse the paper.
- Using a tablespoon (from your cutlery drawer), spoon out a good handful of the dough.
- Sprinkle a little flour on your counter and roll the dough into a long rope about the thickness of your ring finger.
- Using a bench scraper or pizza cutter, cut the rope into 1/2 inch pieces and place on your prepared pans. (I get 99 cookies on each large cookie sheet)
- Bake at 350º for about 15 minutes or until cookies just begin to brown. This is where having a convection oven comes in handy as you can bake 2 or 3 cookie sheets at a time.
- Remove from pan and cool. Store in ice cream pails in a cool place.
- The Pfeffernuesse will keep for a long time - at least 6 months - but only if you hide them..