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


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,
  ~ 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,
my *virtual* coffeehouse at...


Holiday Grind: 
A Coffeehouse Mystery,
a Top-9 national mystery
bestseller in hardcover
is now a Publishers
in paperback!

by Cleo Coyle

“Fun and gripping…”
 —The Huffington Post 

“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.”
Mystery Scene

Just Released!

Congrats to Krista Davis
on the publication

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fun with Spaetzle!

Congratulations to Julie Hyzy for a starred review for her new book Grace Under Pressure! Yay, Julie!

Yesterday, Mystery Lovers' Kitchen was the proud recipient of the One Lovely Blog Award -- twice!

Thanks to Lorna Barret and Laura Hinds for this honor. We're thrilled that you like us!

And now --

Fun With Spaetzle!

I can almost guarantee children will love Spaetzle. First of all, there's the name. Shpeh -- tslee. Then there are the funky shapes. It's made by dropping dough into boiling water, so the pieces come out kid-size and in all sorts of wiggly-looking shapes.

The taste is never overwhelming. In fact, I realized recently that spaetzle is a major comfort food for me. It has that reassuring warm tummy-filling thing going on. No weird ingredients, either. You probably always have the basics on hand -- flour, milk, and eggs.

It's a common food in Germany. If you've never had it, I'd have to say it's closer to egg pasta than anything else, but it's not really pasta, either. It is yummy, though. Those odd little shapes do a nice job of capturing sauces, so it's a natural with goulash, or stroganoff, or even osso buco. Like pasta, it can also be served as a side dish with just a little bit of browned butter.


3 eggs
3 cups flour
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

large pot of salted water

Measure the milk in a 2 or 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup. Add the eggs and whisk together. Mix the salt and nutmeg in a bowl with the flour. Gradually add the liquid to the flour, stirring (I use a whisk) until well-mixed. It gets thick, and sort of like pancake batter, there may be some smallish lumps that disappear when you cook it.

Bring the water to a boil. I had this handy-dandy spaetzle maker available, so I placed the batter in the container on top. It drips through the holes and you run the little container back and forth. Kind of fun, actually. Note that the little bits of spaetzle are dropping into the boiling water below. They cook almost instantly.

If you don't have a handy-dandy spaetzle maker, you can accomplish the same thing by letting the batter drip through the holes in a colander or the top part of a double boiler. Don't worry about the shapes. The funkier, the better!

Pour into a colander to get rid of the water --

and, voila! Spaetzle!


I Can't Wait to Barbecue!

And wouldn't it be wonderful to have a selection of rubs from Williams-Sonoma? I can't enter (boohoo) to win them -- but you can!


The first book in the Memphis Barbeque series, Delicious and Suspicious, will be released July 6. To celebrate its upcoming release, Riley is throwing a giveaway! :)Are you interested in winning Williams-Sonoma’s Ultimate Grilling Rub Collection? It’s easy to enter! Just send an email to with

“Contest” in the subject line.

Grilling Rub   CollectionReally, really want to up your chances? You’ll get one extra entry if you follow us on Twitter, one extra if you subscribe to our posts (in the right hand sidebar under “Subscribe”), and one extra for becoming a follower (by clicking the “follow” button in the right hand column under our book covers and blog roll.) Just send us an extra email at and let us know what you’ve signed up for. If you’re already a follower or subscriber, let us know that, too!