Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pfeffernusse


Pfeffernusse
Source: Maida Heatter's Brand-New Book of Great Cookies (Random House, 1995 ed.), pg. 179.

I had no idea what these cookies would be like because, as in most of Maida Heatter's books, there are no photos. In her introduction to the recipe, she says that they are traditional German cookies usually made at Christmas. The name means "pepper-nuts". This is how you pronounce it.

I tried one after making them and they reminded me of something. I asked Michael to try one and he immediately said "Oh my God, these are Windmill cookies like my mother loved!" That was it! I had forgotten all about Windmill cookies but remembered them as soon as he said it. These hard, crisp  spicy cookies are flecked with almonds throughout

You should know that the dough will have to be refrigerated for at least 3 hours before you roll them out and bake them. You can leave the dough in the refrigerator as long as you want, until you are ready to make them. If you don't want to wait 3 hours, you can freeze for an hour but don't leave them in the freezer longer than that or the dough will crack easily. 

1/2 lb. (1 2/3 cups) blanched (skinned) hazelnuts or almonds
4 cups sifted unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. finely ground black pepper or white pepper
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. dry powdered mustard
1/4 tsp. ground mace
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
10 oz. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (softened)
1 1/4 packed cups light brown sugar
1/4 cup mild honey
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Toast the nuts in a shallow pan in 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, until they are lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.

Place the nuts and 1/4 cup of the flour (reserving the remaining 3 3/4 cups) in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse 3 or 4 times until the nuts are medium-fine. Then process for about 5 seconds until the nuts are about the size of uncooked rice grains. Set aside.
Sift together the reserved flour with the salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mustard, mace and cardamom. Set aside.
 
     
Beat the butter until smooth.
Add the sugar, beating until mixed.
Mix in the honey.
Reserve 2 tablespoons of the water and add the rest to the mixing bowl.
Beat well. The mixture will look curdled.
In a small cup, add the baking soda to the 2 tablespoons of water that you reserved earlier. Mix to dissolve.
Add the baking soda and water to the batter.
On low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients.
Beat in the nuts.
Divide the dough into 3 pieces and wrap each one in a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper.
Flatten the dough to about a 1" thickness. Refrigerate at least 3 hours (you can leave in there longer if you want to wait and bake the cookies later). You can also freeze the dough but do not leave it in the freezer longer than 1 hour.

Baking the Cookies

Preheat the oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.


Unwrap a piece of the dough and divide it in half. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Use a large, round cookie-cutter and start cutting the cookies from the outer edges of the rolled-out dough. Place about an inch apart on the lined cookie sheets. You can roll up the remaining pieces of dough to make more cookies.
Bake for about 14-18 minutes, reversing the sheets halfway through baking. Bake until the cookies are golden. Cool briefly on cooling racks until they are firm enough to be moved. The cookies can be stored for weeks in an airtight container.

1 comment:

Randy said...

Feffernoosens? LOL