Wednesday, December 5, 2012

And the cookie exchange recipe will be...

Pfeffernuesse! They are small, spicy German Christmas cookies, and they are scrumptious.
I looked on Pinterest, allrecipes, and a million other sites that I usually go to for inspiration, and I found a ton of good ideas, but unfortunately no great ones, and none that seemed easy enough to bake 7 or 8 dozen of with a toddler hanging off my leg. But then I looked in one of my favorite cookbooks (after I looked in about 10 others first), Blue Ribbon Recipes: 693 Award-Winners from America's State and County Fairs, and I found the perfect recipe for Pfeffernuesse. And then I changed it just a little anyway. In my defense, I really couldn't find ground cloves, and didn't know how to grind the whole cloves I had without a spice or coffee grinder. I also didn't have cardamom or white pepper, so the spices are all slightly adjusted, but the cookies turned out fantastic. Not necessarily authentic, but tasty. Word of warning: store these in an airtight container once they are cooled, as they tend to get hard quickly. My handy dandy 1960 Betty Crocker picture cookbook says that you can store a wedge of apple in with them to keep them fresh and mellow the spice out a little, but in my house they didn't last that long.

3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger, plus a pinch
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup room temperature butter
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
confectionery sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease cold baking sheets.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
In a large bowl of electric mixer cream butter and white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and egg, scraping sides of mixer bowl constantly. Add flour mixture 1/3 at a time, and beat on low speed until a thick dough forms.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator (NOT FREEZER) for half an hour.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls (or smaller, depending on how big you'd like your cookies; they don't really spread almost at all), and place on prepared baking sheets.
Bake 11-14 minutes. Cool on wire racks and sprinkle with confectionery sugar while still warm.

Serve. Eat. Good with German beer.

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