Saturday, 17 December 2016

Pfeffernüsse - German Iced Spice Cookies

My sister in Canada mentioned that she had bought some Pfeffernüsse, which are a German cookie that is iced(some recipes just roll the cookies in icing sugar).  They are also very popular, with different names in Denmark and The Netherlands.    I thought they looked very good and with all the spices they are quite unlike anything I have ever tried.  So I decided to look around to see what I could find, and then make some.

They are popular in Germany at this time of year, and I checked with a German friend as to how they are traditionally served.  He said that his family always had iced ones.  So that is what I wanted to make.   I found a very good recipe on daringgourmet. In that recipe the spices used are called lebkuchengewürz and that same website has a recipe to make your own here.  The mixture of spices is cinnamon, allspice, cloves, coriander, star anise, ginger, mace, cardamom and nutmeg.  So I made mine, folowing that recipe, but reducing the amount of cloves by half, since I find that cloves can be rather overpowering. Of course you can just add your own amounts of the various spices until you have two teaspoons full, trying to balance the flavours to your liking. It is quite important to include star anise(aniseed) and it is readily available in UK supermarkets, though you may have to grind it.  If you cant find star anise but you can find ground aniseed powder that will be fine.

Although the recipe takes quite some time to make, it can be done in three very short stages, the first is to make the cookie dough, then it has to chill in the fridge.  The second is to shape and cut the cookies, and then bake them.  The third stage is to ice them when they are cooled.  Altogether the actual work time should be less than an hour.

For my cookies I converted the recipe into metric measurements as best I could, since that is how I prefer to work.

The resulting cookies, and this recipe makes about 50, are very good indeed. 


Pfeffernüsse
                                         Pfeffernüsse - Video
Ingredients:
for the cookies:
  • 290g plain flour
  • 25g ground almonds,
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 1/4tsp ground pepper
  • 2tsp lebkuchengewürz
  • 45ml double cream
  • 70g unsalted butter
  • 110g light brown sugar(I used muscovado)
  • 1 medium egg(large in USA)
  • 80ml honey
for the icing:
  • 290g icing sugar
  • 60ml hot water
Method:
  1. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, Lebkuchengewuerz, white pepper and almond meal. Set aside.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, honey, butter, and cream in a medium saucepan and heat, stirring frequently, until melted and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes. Stir in the flour mixture. 
  3. Once incorporated stir in the egg until thoroughly combined. The dough will have a nice glossy sheen. It will be very sticky and that's how it should be.
  4. Turn the mixture out onto some plastic wrap and wrap the dough tightly. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, and up to two days.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350 F
  6. Remove the dough from the plastic wrap and immediately cut in half and oll it into two strands, each ¾ inch thick. 
  7. Slice the rolls into ¾ inch thick rounds and roll each round into a ball (each ball should be about ¾ inch large). Work quickly while the dough is still chilled.
  8. Place the cookie balls on a line cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. 
  9. Remove and let the cookies cool completely.
  10. To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and water until smooth.
  11. Dip each cookie in the glaze, letting the excess drip off, and place them on a wire rack positioned over a cookie sheet (to catch the drips) and let them sit until the glaze is fully hardened.
  12. Store the cookies in airtight container in a cool place. Will keep for at least 2 weeks and the flavor only gets better over time.

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