Friday, December 9, 2016

First Day of Christmas Cookies Pfeffernusse





My friend Judy –the midnight baker – has been encouraging me to start a blog for months now. She makes the best main dishes around and is a pretty handy baker of sweets as well. I finally decided its time to start, because I am going into Christmas cookie baking mode. Each year I try to find the most interesting cookies to make up baskets for the people we care about. We have some amazing friends. My husband and I struggle with disabilities – he is in a wheelchair due to a combination of work injuries and post polio syndrome, and I have a lot of difficulty standing or walking due to my knees.
     Anyway, our neighbors and friends help us out by mowing our lawn all summer, raking and bagging our leaves in fall and snow-blowing and shoveling us out in winter. Judy often helps out when we have bad days by bringing dinner over, and when we go away, she has a warm meal waiting for us upon our return. I don’t think you find too many friends like this these days! Even our 76 year old neighbor buys us subs when the church in town has a fund raiser –all we are able to do for her is take out her garbage and pick up or mail things; as I said amazing friends who all help each other when they can.  I used to have dreams of opening my own store with handmade soaps, scrubs and bath bombes, but after taking a business course realized I was too out of the way for it to fly. Then I became allergic to the scents, and the dream went down the drain. I still like to make soap occasionally, so one day in the future I will probably blog about that.

      I am a dreamer by nature – have you ever seen the movie with Michael Keaton and Henry Winkler about two guys who work in a morgue? It's called Night Shift. Michael Keaton is hysterical in it – he calls himself an idea man and keeps a little cassette recorder with him at all times to record his ideas when they pop into his head – I am a little like that – only I get my ideas when I am supposed to be sleeping and end up with insomnia trying to figure out if I can do these things or not!

     Anyway, now that you know a little about me, on with the cookies! A big thank you, by the way, to Judith Hannemann, the Midnight Baker http://bakeatmidnite.com/ for taking this beautiful photo.



Pfefferneuse
So I’m thinking the best cookie to make first for Christmas is Pfefferneuse.; my great grandmother and grandmother used to make this every Christmas and I remember taking a few of them with their powdery sugar and just delighting in them. The ones you buy in the store are a sad replacement.  The big secret if you are a novice to this is that Pfefferneuse needs a few weeks to become soft, so if you are thinking of making them around the 20th of December, you are in for a big disappointment, because they will be hard as a rock and not delectable at all!

I have a big problem with letting things grab my attention and more than once have made a dish only to find after it’s in the oven for a bit, that I forgot an important ingredient – does that happen to you? So this year I have been keeping a pencil with my recipes and marking off the ingredients as I add them. Hopefully that will keep me from frustrating mistakes. I am not a novice baker, but I am a scattered person at best.

Pefferneuse needs quite a bit of time in the fridge before you bake it, so making it in the evening and baking it next day is really handy. My plan is to make several refrigerator friendly recipes, leave them overnight and bake them the next day while I am making my next batches of cookies. In theory, this should work….time will tell. Make sure you take out all the things that need to soften like butter and cream cheese well before you start your baking spree.

Honey and molasses make one part of the flavor and a bunch of ground spices make up the other. If you find other recipes for this on the web, make sure they have cardamom in them. Cardamom is used in a lot of German and Scandinavian cooking and has a very distinct flavor. The tough thing is finding a store that sells it. I went to my local price chopper, shop rite and Wal-Mart. All I found was one of those 3-4 ounce bottles for over $11.00. Really? Trust me, unless you are making Scandinavian breads every other day, you are never going to use this up! Then I thought about our local health food store and decided to try that – sure enough, they had some – Cardamon is $42 a pound, so I was grateful to only have to put a teaspoon in my little baggie – cost 83 cents – much better than buying that bottle. 

In a non- reactive pot, combine the molasses, honey and butter stir over low heat until the butter has melted.


When you melt the butter in the molasses and honey, make sure it doesn’t come to a boil, it will taste burned!
The mixture will become thin, just be patient.


 Remove from heat, transfer it to a large bowl, and let it cool until it is lukewarm.
While it is cooling, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Once the honey mixture is lukewarm, beat in beaten egg and anise extract. Mix well, then gradually stir in dry ingredients to make a stiff dough.

Make a log and wrap it in saran wrap and leave in fridge at least 5 hours, or as i did, overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line baking sheets.

Let the dough warm up just a little, and dust your hands with flour. Then make balls about 1 inch in diameter and place on baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 11-14 minutes, cool thoroughly and roll in confectioner's sugar.

Store in an airtight container, separating layers with wax paper. Like fruitcake, these cookies get better and softer as they age. If desired, before serving, they may be rolled once again in confectioner's sugar - I always liked them double rolled -part of the fun as a kind, was liking off the sugar!!!

Recipe for Pfefferneuse
1/4 cup molasses
1 1/4 cups honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut in pieces
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 TBSP unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cardamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
Scant 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
pinch of salt
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1/4 tsp. pure anise extract
confectioner's sugar for dusting 

In a non- reactive pot, combine the molasses, honey and butter stir over low heat until the butter has melted.

When you melt the butter in the molasses and honey, make sure it doesn’t come to a boil, it will taste burned!
The mixture will become thin, just be patient.

 Remove from heat, transfer it to a large bowl, and let it cool until it is lukewarm.
While it is cooling, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Once the honey mixture is lukewarm, beat in beaten egg and anise extract. Mix well, then gradually stir in dry ingredients to make a stiff dough


Make a log and wrap it in saran wrap and leave in fridge at least 5 hours, or as i did, overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line baking sheets.


Let the dough warm up just a little, and dust your hands with flour. Then make balls about 1 inch in diameter and place on baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 11-14 minutes, cool thoroughly and roll in confectioner's sugar.

Store in an airtight container, separating layers with wax paper. Like fruitcake, these cookies get better and softer as they age. If desired, before serving, they may be rolled once again in confectioner's sugar

No comments:

Post a Comment