Pfeffernüsse / Peppernuts
by Lynda Ollenburger Sangster
(Powder Springs, Georgia, USA)
Pfeffernüsse – Marie Ollenburger's Peppernuts via Lois Ollenburger and her daughter, Lynda.
Marie was my dad’s mother, my grandmother, and at our house, her daughter-in-law, my mother Lois, baked these every Christmas. I was told this recipe was actually my grandmother’s mother-in-law’s recipe, which places it in the mid-1800s.
My dad’s favorite way of eating them was to float them in a cup of coffee and spoon them out. Milk worked for us kids. Some Pfeffernüsse recipes yield a frosted cookie. In our house, these were never frosted. They were little cookie bites, like nuts.
Yields several hundred 1” cookie bites
- 1 c. shortening
- ½ c. sorghum syrup
- ½ c. molasses (dark syrup/honey or a combo of any/all OK)
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. each: cloves, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, black pepper
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. salt
- 4-5 c. flour (Lynda's note - more than 6 cups used)
- ¼ c. water
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- Grated rind of 1 orange
- Put the syrup & shortening in a dish and melt. While it is heating, mix sugar and egg in mixing bowl and add syrup and shortening mixture. Be careful not to curdle the egg with hot syrup/shortening.
- Sift the spices with some flour (altogether, it will take about 5 cups, but start out with 3 or 4.) Add the flour mixture to syrup/shortening.
- Stir in the baking soda dissolved in the water, and orange peel. Add enough flour to make a rolled cookie dough. Roll a bit of the dough -- if it holds its shape pretty well, it's ready to bake. If not, add more flour. Best to make the dough one evening, cover the dish and leave in a warm room overnight. Then bake the next day.
- Roll the dough out into ropes, the thickness of your pinkie, sausage-fashion, cut in 1/3" pieces with a knife, place about 1” apart and bake about 350° (7-10 minutes) only light brown.
- Wonderful results using baking stone & parchment paper.
- Heat the shortening/syrup mixture in the microwave until shortening just melts. The warming of the syrup/shortening is the secret to the perfect cookie texture.
- Measure out the spices onto a plate beforehand, to make avoid forgetting any.
- A microplane makes quick work of the orange peel.
- A 76 oz./9.5 cup plastic container with snap-on lid makes a perfect overnight dough-keeper and helps keep the batch fresh as it's being worked.
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