Showing posts with label German cookies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label German cookies. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Kinder, Gentler Pfeffernüsse from Cleo Coyle



Like any recipe that's been around for several hundred years, there are countless variations of the German cookie pfeffernüsse (aka "pepper nuts"), and I've made several. Some bakers, for example, put finely chopped nuts into their "pepper nuts. Some don't. 
Cleo Coyle, baker of
a kinder, gentler
pfeffernüsse, and author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
Some bakers like to add a potent amount of black or white pepper into the cookie, giving them very peppery bite. Some add ground cloves. 


The version I'm sharing with you today is my favorite way to make it: soft on the inside but with a light crispness on the outside shell. No nuts to take away from the contrast of spicy, delicious gingerbread flavor with the sweet dusting of powdered sugar.


My version also takes a kinder, gentler approach to the spice aspect, using only a pinch of pepper and leaning more heavily on the ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. (Allspice, I find, delivers that ground clove flavor at a much lower price.)





BTW: I've encountered people who are under the impression that allspice is a spice mix (like pumpkin pie spice). Not so. Allspice is actually a pea-sized berry that mimics the flavors of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The berry comes from the evergreen pimiento tree, grown in South America and the West Indies, including Jamaica.






Cleo Coyle's Pfeffernüsse "Pepper Nuts"
German gingerbread snowball cookies



To get a free PDF version of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, just click here.


Ingredients

3 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 pinches of ground white (or black) pepper 
¾ cup butter (1-1/2 sticks), softened
½ cup white, granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses, unsulphered (not blackstrap!)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered (confectioners' or icing) sugar (for double-dusting)

Yields: 4 to 5 dozen cookies, depending on size

Mix the dough: Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and ground spices. Set aside. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in egg, molasses, and vanilla. Now gradually add in the dry flour mixture, blending just until the dough comes together. (Do not overwork this dough or you’ll produce gluten in the flour, which will toughen your cookies.)

Chill the dough: Form dough into a disc or ball. Wrap in plastic and allow to rest in refrigerator for two hours or overnight. (The resting allows the dough to hydrate and the flavors to develop for better tasting cookies.)

Bake the cookies: When ready to bake, break off small pieces of dough and roll into balls. I make mine a little less than 1-inch in diameter. If you prefer a softer cookie, roll balls larger. Bake 12 to 16 minutes, depending on oven and whether you’re using parchment or a silicon sheet. You’re looking for the cookies to bake up a nice, golden brown and crack slightly on the surface. For softer cookies, underbake them.






Cleo’s double dusting: While the cookies are still very warm, roll them in powdered sugar. The heat of each cookie will melt the sugar into a lovely, light crust of glaze. After the cookies have cooled a bit more, roll them a second time and you’ll have your final snowball dusting. These are the perfect treat to leave for Santa on a snowy Christmas Eve.





Storage tips: Make sure your cookies are completely cool before storing in an airtight container. When cookies are stored warm, condensation can occur, turning your treats soggy. Of course, you can always serve them warm and...

Eat with Joy to the World!



Merry Christmas,
Everyone!
 
   
  ~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries


To get more of my recipes, 
find out more about my books,
or sign up to win free coffee,
visit 
my *virtual* coffeehouse at...


Coffeehouse Mystery.com



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“Some of the most vibrant characters I've ever read. Coyle also is a master of misdirection and red herrings. I challenge any reader to figure out whodunit before Coyle reveals all.”
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