Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pfeffernüsse (Peppernuts) - A German Cookie

For as long as I can remember my family has made the same cookies every holiday season. Almost all of the cookies are ones that my grandmother made every year, without fail. Honestly, I have never figured out how she managed to make all the cookies that she did. She baked for not only for the family she'd have over for Christmas, but everybody got to leave with a huge box of cookies, at least a dozen of each kind. She had to have made at least triple, if not quadruple, batches of every cookie.

My grandmother lived with us when I was in high school and I got to spend the last 3 years of her life working in the kitchen with her at Christmas to make all these wonderful cookies. While I was in college my dad took over the Christmas cookies. No matter how much he tried, they just never came out right. My mom tried too. She failed even worse. Once I moved out of my parents' house, I took over the Christmas cookies. I have been baking for a week already and am only half done with the list of Christmas cookies. I'm pretty sure I've also gained at least 5 pounds already.

One of my favorite cookies are these little spiced cookies that are extremely hard and require a hot beverage to drip them in. Translated from German they are called Peppernuts.

Pfeffernüsse (Peppernuts)
makes 10-20 dozen 1inch square cookies

4 cups granulated sugar
8 eggs
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
8 cups all-purpose flour

Beat eggs and sugar until very light – about 30 minutes with electric mixer on medium speed. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Roll out on floured surface to 1/4” thick and cut with peppernut cutter (or the center of a doughnut cutter). Or just cut into 1-inch squares. Put on pans that have been lightly greased and floured. Let stand overnight in a cool place (at least 8 hours).

Turn upside down before baking and put a drop of brandy or lemon juice on top. This helps them to pop up.

Bake at 325 for about 15 minutes. 

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