A German friend introduced me to these traditional crisp treats that pack a
powerful flavor in a small size. They became my tradition as well and once a
year I happily share this love offering with my family and friends.
The dough is simple to make especially with a good mixer.
It takes on a variety of textures and beautiful designs as the
wet and dry ingredients are mixed together.
After all the flour is incorporated, the dough still appears too soft to
handle but is amazingly pliable. Scoop out a handful of dough and begin to
roll it into a rope. Gently roll back and forth on a piece of waxed paper.
Before rolling, cut lengths of waxed paper to extend beyond your baking
sheet. Cut those sheets into thirds, lengthwise.
After the dough- rope is just less than the length of your baking sheet, lay a
strip of the prepared waxed paper alongside the rope and wrap it up.
Fourteen rolls ready for the freezer. This step firms up
the dough so the peppernuts will keep their shape as the dough is sliced.
To speed things up, I cut the long roll in half, laid them side by side and
cut two lengths at once.
It is not necessary to dip the little wafers into sugar but I adopted this
method from a German lady I watched bake peppernuts for an MCC
relief sale. I liked the taste and copied her idea.
After I toss the 'penny cookies' in the sugar, I shake off the excess using
a coarse sieve.
The cookies don't spread so they can be placed close together on the
greased baking sheet. This is a time consuming process but
when the first cookies come off the sheet, and the kitchen is aromatic with
the smell of Christmas spices, I am content.
PEPPERNUTS OR PFEFFERNEUSSE
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
½ cup sugar
1 cup golden corn syrup
½ cup molasses
½ cup hot water
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
Cream butter, sugar, syrup and molasses. Dissolve baking soda
in hot water; gradually add to creamed mixture, beating well.
6 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground anise
(or 3 drops oil of anise)
¼ tsp. salt
Blend flour and spices; add to creamed mixture and mix thoroughly.
Shape about ½ cup of dough at at time into rope the diameter of a penny,
rolling back and forth on a sheet of waxed paper. Roll each rope onto a
4-inch strip waxed paper, wrap and place on a baking sheet; freeze.
When ready to bake, remove one rope at a time from freezer and slice
into pennies. Toss 'penny cookies' in sugar until coated, shake off excess
sugar using a sieve. Place ½ inch apart on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake in preheated 350° oven for 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown.
(Cookies should be crisp throughout when cool)
Remove and spread on paper towels or heavy brown paper to cool
and crisp up. When completely cool, store in airtight container or freeze.
Yield: about 16 cups Peppernuts