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Germans from Russia: Pfeffern端sse (Pfefferneusse)

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Tom Kurth View Drop Down
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    Posted: 06 February 2016 at 18:41
What follows is a family recipe for the little German spice cookies known as pfefferneusse, in English, peppernuts, but literally translating as spice-nuts. This recipe was handed down from my paternal grandmother, Maria Magdalena Kurth, nee Weiss. These are rock-hard nuggets that will break your teeth if you don't hold them in your mouth for a little to absorb saliva and thereby soften some. No, I mean it, if you think they're too hard and there's something wrong with the recipe, think again. THAT'S HOW THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE!

Half recipe

1/4 gallon dark syrup*
butter the size of 1/2 egg
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. allspice
1 t. baking powder
1 C. sugar
Flour to make a very stiff dough (about 9 cups)

Manageable recipe

1 C. dark corn syrup
1/8 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. allspice
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 C. sugar
small pat butter
2.25 C. flour

Roll into 3/4 inch balls, place on baking sheet, bake in a 350F oven for 10 minutes. When cool, store in closed gallon jars.

I simply can't imagine how many of these Grandma made in her lifetime. Since my father was a preacher, we were never at the grandparents' for Christmas. I know my mother made dozens every year when the five of us were young. The very thought of these little cookies never fails to rouse holiday memories. Just remember, THAT'S HOW THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BE!
Best,
Tom

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 February 2016 at 11:43
Excellent, Tom - sharing family recipes is exactly what this site is about, and considering my own family's heritage, this is doubly appreciated, as I am afraid such recipes have been lost in our family. I'll be making these, for sure.Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2017 at 08:38
Tom - I had been meaning to make these for quite a while, and last night we finally did!

We followed the recipe for a "manageable" batch; the only difference is that we didn't have any dark corn syrup, so I used molasses. This seemed to be a good substitute, and everything turned out great; in fact, they tasted exactly as I expected they would, and I really enjoyed them.

Many thanks, Tom, for this recipe. It is a staple for Germans from Russia, especially at Christmastime, and should be experienced!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Kurth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 December 2017 at 19:05
Yah, I made some a couple weeks ago. Used molasses  instead of syrup just because there was some in the fridge. Also dialed up the spices with some cloves, mace and ginger. They were OK but too spicy--gave me heartburn--and never hardened up, remained kinda chewy. I picked up some syrup the other day so I'll make some of the real deal, probably Sunday. Have only baked cookies one other time this fall, snickerdoodles. And I forgot, we decorated the Christmas tree with gingerbread cutouts, too. But those hardly count--not very edible, especially after the cat plays with them. I'll have plenty of time Sunday and next weekend for baking. We have to. Our contributions to family Christmas dinner are jalepeno poppers and tons of cookies--helluva combination, huh?

Glad you enjoyed them. Did they harden up for you?

Recently read an article in the KC Star about peppernuts and consequently looked up additional recipes on the Net. I was surprised to find that most recipes called for eggs and a lot more fat. Can't imagine those being right at all. ;) Also found it interesting that they attributed the origins to the Danes, "pepernodes" or something like that. Heresy, I say, heresy!

Anyway, Merry Christmas.
Best,
Tom

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 December 2017 at 08:45
Hi, Tom -

These ones (with the molasses) did not quite harden up; they were dense, but had some chew to them. I really liked the texture and how it seemed to "Fit" the flavor profile. I considered adding a bit of clove and ginger, but ultimately decided not to. I might add a pinch of clove next time, but the truth is that I probably shouldn't, because the cookies really don't need it.

I can't imagine eggs in these cookies - maybe a bit more butter, but once again it really doesn't need it. If a person makes these as intended (either with the dark corn syrup or with molasses as a substitute), the will be very good. This is a very good recipe - worth trying.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2018 at 10:17
I made another batch (the "manageable" size) just a couple of days before Christmas, and they turned out just as well - delicious!

My goal was to get 2 dozen cookies, and I came very close; using a generous tablespoon per cookie, I got 22 of them. I do think that with a little more attention to portioning, I would have gotten the 2 dozen I was hoping for, as my measuring was less than consistent. Next time, I will hold each cookie to 1 tablespoon, carefully measured.

In any case, they tasted great - I used the molasses again, in place of the dark corn syrup, and flattened them slightly before putting them in the oven. They came out looking pretty good, I think:



At least one batch of these will be a Christmas tradition, from now on.

Thanks much Tom, and Happy New Year!

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2018 at 11:02
These look lovely ..  And have a nice aromatic fragrance to them .. 

Definitely time for an Earl Grey Tea !!!   
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