Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cookie of the Month: Pfefferneusse

Finally, I found the time to try making pfeffernuesse. Why pfeffernuesse? Why not pfefferneusse? It's pfun to say pfefferneusse. It sounds exotic, and with pepper in the recipe, it is kind of exotic. So I turned to my trusty Better Homes & Gardens cookbook:

4 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
dash of pepper
¾ cup light molasses
½ cup butter or margarine
2 eggs
sifted powdered sugar

Combine flour, sugar, soda, spices, and pepper. In a saucepan combine molasses and butter; heat and stir until butter melts. (I actually used my trusty microwave, instead, to the same effect) Cool to room temperature, then stir in eggs. Add dry ingredients to molasses mixture; mix well. (I was sooooo glad to have my handy-dandy KitchenAid mixer for this step, because the dough got really, really stiff, and I saved my elbow from severe pain this way.) Cover dough and chill several hours or overnight. When it's thoroughly chilled, it will look very stiff and solid, as in the picture:

The next step is to grease a cookie sheet, and shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Notice the instructions don't say, "roll the dough." This is because the dough is so hard I couldn't use my trusty click scoop to grab an inch-worth of dough for me. No, I literally had to break off a piece of dough and warm it in my hands before I could roll it into something approximating the shape of a ball. It took me a bit of time, but I finally got 30 balls ready to bake, which you do in a preheated 350F oven, for 12 to 14 minutes. Take them out and cool on a wire rack. It was at this point I was really glad I had TSU translate "pfefferneusse" for me. I knew the "pfeffer" referred to the pepper, but I couldn't quite pin down "neusse," although it sounded familiar. I had an "ah-ha!" moment when he told me it meant "nut," because that's what these little cookies looked like.

There was one last step to finish these tasty little nuggets: Roll in sifted powdered sugar. Or, in my case because I don't own and am too lazy to use a sifter, unsifted powdered sugar. The result is a tasty little nut-shaped cookie that tastes a lot like gingerbread. It's dense but chewy, and not quite as sweet as my mom's gingersnap cookie recipe. But I loved the spicy flavoring—cloves are one of my favorite scents—and it would be very very easy to down half a dozen of these at one sitting. Luckily for my waistline, I took the bulk of these up to camp to share with my family.

For me, I give them the following rating: nom nom nom (three noms out of five).

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