Friday, November 22, 2013

Pfeffernüsse - German Pepper Nuts

Well, it is that time of year again, Christmas is only a few weeks away, and I have decided to start my holiday baking a bit earlier than usual. Tomorrow marks the first of many Christmas bazaars at our kids´ school and since I baked up a storm for that fund-raiser ("Stollen" and more traditional German "Christmas Stollen"), I decided to bake my first batch of Christmas cookies at the same time.
Nun, es ist mal wieder soweit, Weihnachten ist nur noch ein paar Wochen weg, und ich habe beschlossen, ein wenig früher als üblich mit meiner Weihnachtsbäckerei zu beginnen. Morgen findet dann auch der erste von vielen Weihnachtsbasaren an einer der Schulen unserer Kinder statt und da ich sowieso jede Menge Stollen für das Kuchenbüffet gebacken habe, dachte ich dann kann ich auch noch ein paar Weihnachtskekse zu backen.




My recipe is a classic version of  the well-known recipe for German “Pfeffernüsse” (literally translated that means “pepper nuts”). It contains a lot of fresh spices, local honey, almonds, brown sugar (I like to use raw sugar), flour, and a good amount of freshly ground black pepper.

These cookies pack a bit of a punch, but that is the way they are supposed to taste as they are often enjoyed with a glass of “Glühwein” (mulled wine), so they need to be able to hold their own and provide some contrast to the sweetness of the wine.
Main Rezept ist eine klassische Version des Rezepts für "Pfeffernüsse", es enthält jede Menge frische Gewürze, regionalen Honig, Mandeln, braunen Rohrzucker, Mehl und eine gute Portion frisch gemahlenen schwarzen Pfeffer, meine Lieblingssorte natürlich.

Die Kekse schmecken sehr würzig, genauso wie wir sie mögen. Da sie auch gerne mit einem Glas "Glühwein" oder Teepunsch genossen werden, bildet die Würze der Kekse einen wunderbaren Kontrast zur Süße des Weins oder des Punschs oder einer Tasse Tee.




As far as the decoration of these cookies is concerned, while I used a traditional sugar icing, I decided to add a not so traditional sprinkling of crushed red peppercorns. This makes for a pretty little festive touch and a little extra bit of extra peppery punch. The crushed red peppercorns are both warm and aromatic, but without being too hot. Of course, feel free to leave them off or add extra sparkle with some colored sugar.
Was die Dekoration dieser Pfeffernüsse angeht, habe ich mich für einen traditionellen Zuckerguss und rote Pfefferbeeren entschieden. Das sieht nicht nur festlich aus, sorgt aber auch für eine leichte extra Schärfe.  Die zerkleinerten roten Pfefferbeeren schmecken sehr aromatisch, aber sind gleichzeitig nicht zu scharf. Natürlich kannman die Pfefferbeeren auch gänzlich weglassen oder die Pfeffernüsse zum Beispiel mit silbernen oder goldenem Zucker verzieren.




Pfeffernüsse

Ingredients for the Cookies
(makes about 50)
  • 50 grams chopped (blanched) almonds
  • 200 grams liquid honey (mild), local if possible
  • 100 grams light brown sugar
  • 50 grams unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk (M), free range or organic if possible - keep the egg white for later in this recipe
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon (I always use "Ceylon" cinnamon from Sri Lanka)
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground  black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves*
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom*
  • 1/2 tsp. ground anise seed*
  • one pinch of fine sea salt
  • 350 grams AP (plain) flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. rum
Pfeffernüsse

Zutaten für den Keksteig
(ergibt ungefähr 50 Stück)
  • 50 g gehackte Mandeln
  • 200 g flüssiger Honig (mild), regional wenn möglich
  • 100 g brauner Zucker (zum Beispiel Rohrzucker)
  • 50 g ungesalzene Butter
  • 1 Eigelb (M), Bio oder Freiland wenn möglich
  • 1 Tl Zimt, gemahlen (ich nehme immer "Ceylon" Zimt aus Sri Lanka)
  • 1 Tl schwarzer Pfeffer, frisch gemahlen
  • 0,5 Tl Nelken, gemahlen*
  • 0,5 Tl Kardamom, gemahlen*
  • 0,5 Tl Anis, gemahlen*
  • eine Prise feines Meersalz
  • 350 g Mehl (Type 550)
  • 1 Tl Backpulver
  • 2 El Rum



Ingredients for the Icing
  • 100 grams powdered sugar
  • 1 egg white (the one you kept – if you do not want to use the egg white, you can use Kirsch (cherry brandy), rum, milk or even water
  • a few pink, crushed peppercorns or  sparkling sugar, gold or silver would be nice  (optional)
Zutaten für den Zuckerguss
  • 100 g Puderzucker
  • 1 Eiweiß - wenn man kein Eiweiß für den Zuckerguss benutzen möchte, kann man auch etwas Kirsch nehmen, oder Rum, Milch oder sogar Wasser
  • einige rosa Pfefferbeeren oder bunter Zucker (z. Bsp. gold- oder silberfarben)



Preparation of the Cookies
  1. In a medium sized pan, lightly toast the almonds just until they are fragrant. Take the pan off the heat and let the almonds cool.
  2. In a medium pan, heat the honey and the sugar on low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the butter to the pan and stir until the butter has dissolved. Then take the pan off the heat and let cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the honey-sugar- butter mixture with the egg yolk, almonds, cinnamon,  pepper, cloves, cardamom, anise seed and salt. - * If possible, you should use only freshly ground spices, of course.
  4. Add the flour and baking powder together with the rum to the batter and mix/ knead until the batter comes together and is smooth – it will be sticky. Wrap the dough with food wrap and place it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 degrees Celsius convection).
  6. Take dough pieces, roll them into small balls, about the size of walnuts and place them on parchment lined cookie sheets. Please note that the unbaked "dough balls" weigh 15 grams each. Bake the cookies for about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to cookie racks and let them cool completely.
Zubereitung der Kekse
  1. Die gehackten Mandeln in einer Pfanne ohne Fett hellbraun rösten. Vom Herd nehmen und abkühlen lassen.
  2. Honig und braunen Zucker in einem Topf bei mittlerer Hitze vorsichtig unter Rühren erwärmen, bis sich der Zucker vollständig aufgelöst hat. Butter darin schmelzen, vom Herd nehmen und abkühlen lassen.
  3. In einer Rührschüssel die Honig-Zucker-Lösung mit dem Eigelb, Mandeln, Zimt, Pfeffer, Nelken, Kardamom, Anis und 1 Prise Salz verrühren - * Man sollte, nach Möglichkeit natürlich nur frisch gemahlene Gewürze nehmen.
  4. Mehl und Backpulver mischen und zusammen mit dem Rum unter die Honigmasse kneten, bis ein glatter Teig entsteht. Teig in Folie wickeln und 30 Minuten kalt stellen.
  5. Den Ofen auf 180 Grad (160 Grad Umluft) vorheizen.
  6. Aus dem Teig wallnussgroße Kugeln formen und mit etwas Abstand zueinander auf zwei mit Backpapier belegte Bleche setzen. Merke: die ungebackenen "Keksbälle" wiegen jeder 15 Gramm.  Im vorgeheizten Ofen bei 180 Grad (Gas 2-3, Umluft 160 Grad) 10 bis 12 Minuten backen. Auf einem Gitter auskühlen lassen.



Preparation of the Icing
  1. Once the cookies have cooled, sift the powdered sugar.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together with the egg white (the one that you saved earlier) together with the powdered sugar until you have a thick, glossy icing – if you think that the icing is too thick, add  water by the drop or if it is too thin, add some more powdered sugar.
  3. One by one, dip the Pfeffernüsse into the icing or coat them with a pastry brush.
  4. You can add some crushed pink peppercorns OR sparkling sugar if you wish OR leave them plain.
PLEASE NOTE: the Pfeffernüsse will keep for one to two months if you store them in cookie tins between layers of parchment paper.
Zubereitung des Zuckerguss
  1. Wenn die Kekse abgekühlt sind, den Puderzucker sieben.
  2. In einer Schüssel den Puderzucker zusammen mit dem Eiweiß zu einem glatten Guss verrühren. Ist dieser zu dickflüssig, noch etwas Wasser unterrühren, ist er zu dünnflüssig, noch etwas Puderzucker dazu geben.
  3. Die abgekühlten Pfeffernüsse in den Guss tauchen oder mit einem Backpinsel bestreichen.
  4. Sofort mit dem rosa Pfefferbeeren bestreuen ODER mit buntem Zucker verzieren ODER nicht verzieren und trocknen lassen.
TIP: Luftdicht zwischen Lagen von Backpapier in einer Blechdose aufbewahrt, halten die Pfeffernüsse 1-2 Monate und entfalten während der Lagerung ihr volles Aroma.




Now, you may ask, is it not a little early to bake the first batch of Christamas cookies. Well, like a lot of spicy cookies, they get better if you store them for a while. As the cookies “age” in the cookie tins, their flavor will deepen and they will become “spicier” and even a bit softer.

So give these traditional spicy German Christmas cookies a try and enjoy your Pfeffernüsse with some mulled wine or tea - you will be delighted with the way they taste!

Happy baking!
Jetzt könnte man sich fragen, ob es nicht ist ein wenig zu früh ist Weihnachtskekse zu backen. Nun, wie mit den meisten Keksen, die viele wunderbare Gewürze enthalten, schmecken sie einfach besser, wenn man sie für eine Weile in Keksdosen aufbewahrt, damit sie ihr Aroma noch besser entfalten können und auch noch ein bisschen weicher werden.

Also, vielleicht dieses Jahr mal wieder Pfeffernüsse backen - sie schmecken unglaublich gut mit einem Glas Glühwein oder einer Tasse Tee!

Viel Spaß beim Backen!





44 comments:

  1. Oh Andrea, they are amazing: your cookies and your pictures... Beautiful! Gorgeous!
    I love Pfeffernüsse and when I saw your post "popping up" in my FB page I had to smile: have you been reading my mind? Because exaclty two days ago I was thinking of Pfeffernüsse and after having found the Pfeffernuss Bread in my books I did not hesitate one second and made it. I did not have the time to post about it yet and hope to be able to write about it soon.
    All the best dear Andrea and congratulations! You're the best!

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    1. Dear Carola, how nice that you stopped by tp let me know that you enjoy the pictures as well as the recipe for the traditional German Pfeffernüsse - they were fun to make and we have already tasted a few, although they are meant for keeping in the cookie tins for the flavors to fully develop even more!
      Liebe Grüße in die Schweiz!

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  2. How I wish to have that during Christmas.

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    1. Candy, thank goodness spices are available all year round and these lovely, spicy cookies can be baked any time of year - not only at Christmas time - although they are, of course, particulary nice at this time of year!

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  3. Dear Andrea, I haven't heard of these before but I'm in love! They are so adorable and pretty with the crushed peppercorns. I adore all the spicy flavour and honey and brown sugar. I love them!
    At home we don't celebrate Christmas, but I still love this time of year and bake up a storm to give out treats to my kids schools and neighbors. I've found this lovely cookie to add to the list. Thank you! Have a wonderful start to your holiday season my friend. I hope you bake up a storm. I wish I was closer to be the recipient of these treats :)

    Nazneen xx

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    1. Dear Nazneen, what a wonderful comment - thank you very much - form the look of your recipes on your blog, I believe you would greatly enjoy baking these - they are sweet, spicy and have a distinct warm pepperiness to them from the crushed pink peppercorns. I think I will be baking up a storm this year...it looks like there are so many bazaars and fund raisers coming up in the next few weeks!
      Thank you for your nice whishes and kind words - have a wonderful weekend with your family!

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  4. This has always been one of my husband's favorite cookies. Yours sound so good...way better than anything I'm sure he has tried.

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    1. Karen, thank you very much indeed - these cookies are quite the treat and I am quite sure that anyone who bakes them, will really be pleasantly surprised! Thank you for your nice comment - I greatly appreciate your kind words!

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  5. I haven't had Pfeffernüße since I was in Heldelberg for Christmas in 1987! Yours are definitely the most beautiful I have ever seen, too! I will be making these along with more Speculaas, and Springerle. (I found an antique Springerle rolling pin in an antiques shop last week!) I really wish I could be there for the Weihnachtsmarkt... What a treat! ~ David

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    1. David, how wonderful that you could find an antique Springerle rolling pin in the US - so very rare and so very difficult to find even around here! I will be looking out for your pictures of your Christams cookies - this week, I will be testing another recipe for Speculaas and let you know how it turns out! Thaks so much for your fabulous comment - so much appreciated, dear friend! Isn´t Christmas baking the best?!

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  6. Until recently, we had German neighbours, and Christmas always included Pfeffernüsse - this was something so unusual for us and something I always looked forward to. Great photos as usual. What lens do you use?

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    1. Hester, you are absolutely right, these Pfeffernüsse are quite particular - we like spicy cookies very much and for us it would not be Christmas time without them. But we also like chocolate cookies, or jam-filled ones or vanilla or...a little bit of everything is best. As far the lens is concerned, it is a so-called "macro lens" - hope that helps!
      Thanks for the kind comment!

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  7. Delicious and so festive! simply gorgeous :)
    Mary x

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    1. Mary, thank you very much - festive they look, that´s true! And we are only a few days away from Christmas!

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  8. pepper nut cookies look beautiful especially with those dots of red on top...great food snaps and we learn so much about authentic German recipes from this blog...thanks for sharing...Have a Great Day!!! :-)

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    1. Kumar, such a kind comment - thank you very much! It is nice that I am able to feature some traditional German recipes on my blog - love a lot of them and it is great to get some feed-back on them!

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  9. What a refreshing hint peppery cookies....
    i love pink peppercorn for seafood or any kind if savoury meals,'but never even thought add it to sweet bites...
    what an invention cookies!

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    1. Dede, gald that this "inventice" Christmas cookie got your attention - I have baked a wonderful apple cake with pink peppercorns before - sweet delight, trust me!

      http://kitchenlioness.blogspot.de/2013/01/living-kitchen-2013-cologne-trade-fair_28.html

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  10. These are so light and elegant. What perfect cookies to start off the beginning of holiday baking. I'm hoping I'll find time tomorrow night to make a batch of these, Andrea. They're simply inspired! Thank you for sharing them!

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    1. Monet, elegant wasdefinitely what I was going for and I am glad that you think them elgant. I really enjoy that "different" touch as there are so many recipes out there for these. It was a fun and delicious experiment getting this traditional recipe updated so that it would still be fabulous!

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  11. I love peppernuts!!! (but I never made them by myself...) I definitely have to change that! The red pepper you used as the decoration is so pretty Andrea!
    xox and a wonderful Sunday!

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    1. Amy, merci vielmals!
      These Pferenüsse are mostly traditional with an untraditional touch - we like them exactly this way but we also like them without the added crushed pink peppercons - because the honey and the spices always shine through in this recipe!
      Liebe Grüße in die Schweiz!

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  12. Thank you so much for posting this recipe. Have you ever made these cookies without the black pepper? Does the pepper become milder after sitting for a few days or weeks? 1 tsp seems like a lot, but maybe it is not. I am going to try to make these this week and let them sit. Your photos are beautiful. Thanks again!

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    1. Marlise, freshly ground black pepper is part of every traditional Pfeffernüsse recipe - but you can reduce it to 1/2 tsp. or even 1/4 if you prefer - you will NOT have cookies that taste like pepper, they have a distinct "spicyness" but from all the spices rather than from the pepper - so, my suggestions, start with 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper the first time, and you will be delighted with the way these cookies taste. The honey is also a nice sweet contrast to the spices. Very harmonious flavors .As I said before, even our five-year old liked them with the pepper.
      By the way: I weighed the "dough balls" before baking: exactly 50 cookies, unbaked the doug balls weighed about 15 grams each.
      Hope that helps, dear Marlise!

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    2. Great suggestion to lessen he quantity of pepper the first time. And thank you for the ball measurement. That is very helpful. I will let you know how it goes. Regards.

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    3. Marlise, glad to be of help - hope they turn out wonderful, delicious and fragrant - your kitchen will smell so festive while these are baking!

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  13. I never knew they actually had pepper in them--that's really cool! I would like to make these sometime, they look adorable.

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    1. Ashley, as the name says "Pepper Nuts" so, yes, there is pepper in these cookies but they do not tatse like peppery cookies, they taste like spice cookies with a punch! Pure delight in a cookie!

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  14. Andrea these sound absolutely amazing, I love a hit of pepper in biscuits. When I was at cooking school our tutors were Swiss Chefs and they introduced us to all sorts of European Christmas biscuits, there were lots of really great recipes but I think this has them all beat! I am going to try these for Christmas :)

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    1. Karen, what a wonderful comment - you just made my day! These cookies were a "true work of the heart" so this means a lot to me. especially coming from you!!! Thank you very much - I promise you, you will not be disappointed with the way these cookies turn out!

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  15. Olá Andrea

    Gostei muito desta sugestão e apresentação. O toque da pimenta deve ter-lhe dado um toque....

    Beijinhos
    http://www.pratocaseiro.blogspot.pt/

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    1. Cozinha Caseira - Muito obrigado!

      My very first Portugese comment!!




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  16. This recipe of German pepper nuts looks great! Wonderful recipe and picture :)
    www.cosmopolitancurrymania.com

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    1. Purabi, as an avid spice lover you would probably enjoy this traditional German cookie recipe as well! Thank you for stopping by!

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  17. Andrea, your pictures are so pretty you're making me want to RUN out and buy some red peppercorns! I love your pfeffer jar too, so lovely! I know your baked goods were probably the first to go at the fundraiser!

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    1. Chris, the fundraiser was extremly successful - I am happy to report that all the baked goods from all the mums and dads were sold in a flash. The Pfeffernüsse are wonderful and they have a "warm spicyness" to them that is quite hard to resist - our 11-year-old adores them, who would have thought?!

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  18. Andrea doll, these li'l iced pfeffernusse bonbons are simply stunning.
    .I can just imagine how delicious they must be.
    The red peppercorn sprinkles are just such a beautiful touch against the snow-white icing!

    There's a specialty food store here that usually carries them about this time every year.
    I haven't seen them recently.
    Must be a sign that I should bake my own, yes?
    xoxo

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    1. Colette, my dear, lov eyour wonderful comment - I guess, it is a sign - it reads "try Andrea´s Pfeffernüsse, they are so much more delicious than anything that you will find in a store!" Seriously, if you do get a chance to bake these, you will not be disappointed, I am sure!

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  19. I've never had anything like these before. So intrigued and curious about the peppery taste. They sure look pretty!

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    1. Trishie, if you do get a chance to bake some wonderful and different Chrsitams cookies, this recipe would most certainly be to your liking - if you are a fan of spices! And it is fairly easy to put together too!

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  20. Gorgeous & Beautifully Christmassy!

    Xx

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  21. They have all my favorite ingredients, the spices, rum, honey... Gorgeous cookies Andrea! I've had them in my bucket list for years, it's about time I baked a batch. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

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    1. Paula, I know that you are a great fan of spices and I this cookie recipe is probably exactly the kind of cookie recipe that you would enjoy! Thanks for the comment!

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