Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's Beginning to Smell a lot like Christmas!

Pfeffernüsse--you either love them or hate them. There is no in between. They are the ultimate commitment cookie. In case you were wondering, they are of German origin, pfeffer meaning pepper and nüss meaning nut. See, all that German I took at Lutheran school and beyond (a whopping total of 7 years, you'd think I'd be fluent but unfortunately I am not) is finally paying off. Here, let me impress you just a little further: one pfeffernüss, two pfeffernüsse. I know, I know, I'm amazing.

This recipe is not like anything you've ever seen in a store. In fact, in my whole, entire life, I've only met one other person who makes them this way. Yes, I said one. And I'm kind of a little bit oldish, sort of.

In my humble opinion, these pfeffernüsse knock the socks off the other kind. But remember, you'll either think they are the most horrid little rocks you have ever eaten and why would anyone want to risk breaking a tooth on one, OR like my family (minus my unconverted hubby) you'll realize that these are the most amazing, addictive, mini-biscotti-like, crunchy little pillows of Christmasy goodness that you have ever tasted. The truth of the matter is it just wouldn't be Christmas without pfeffernüsse!

The following is a true story.

My brother Jon was digging under the couch cushions one July looking for loose change, when lo and behold, he happened upon a stray pfeffernüss. He gazed upon its perfect pillowy form, albeit a bit dusty, conjuring up sweet memories of Christmases past. He sniffed it, the peppery, minty aroma flooding his senses with all that is good and beautiful about Christmas.

And then,

and then,

and then

He claims it tasted as good, if not better, than the day it was made, and was all the more sweet because it brought Christmas to him when he least expected it!

Without any further introduction, I give to you...the humble...
Mix together:
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 cup nonfat milk
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Sift in:
5-6 cups flour, enough to make a stiff dough
1 tablespoon baking powder

Roll out in long ropes, and slice into little pillows about 3/4 inch long. You may have to square them up a little bit if they get wonky when you slice them.

(You might think I have the grossest, most unsanitary cutting board known to mankind. What you are looking at is actually a clear plastic cutting board, sitting atop a dark gray concrete countertop. Now you can rest at ease.)
(However, I do own the world's most beat up Silpat.)

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. You want them to be golden brown on the bottom. Let cool completely, then store in a tin or large ziploc. Or just put them in a bowl and let the family snack on them. My kids load their pockets up before school. I'm not joking.

Makes about 5 cookie sheets full. It takes about 30-45 minutes to roll, cut, and bake all the cookies. (That's just a little note to myself, so I don't get started at 11 pm thinking I'm gonna just whip these babies out.)
Now your Christmas can truly be complete.


Milah said...

I think I might give these a try. They remind me of a turkish cookie I use to make, minus the pepper and add a little brandy.
I'm enjoying your advent posts and your ornaments. Thanks for sharing this.

Jaclyn said...

you are absolutely right! would not be the same with out those little spicy floury balls of love for sure :)

Sarah @ ThriftyDecorChick said...

So I am totally intrigued. Are they sweet or salty? I wish you could mail me one so I could try it before I make them. HA! These are going to bother me until I try one...