Friday, December 12, 2008

holiday baking, part 1

Today started with laundry, some quick housecleaning and a couple of errands to get out of the way so I could move on to the big project for the day - making Grandma Pete's version of Pfeffernuesse - small, hard, round cookies that have been a family favorite since before I was born. (The name translates into pepper nuts in German, Danish and Dutch, describing their spicy blend of cinnamon, cloves and anise.) The process involves bringing the wet ingredients to a boil, then cooling it off before adding the spices and flour. The, you have to chill the dough for a couple more hours before rolling it out into ropes, cutting and baking them.
I finished making the dough at about 2:00 and started baking about 5:00, finishing right around 7:30. My family is pretty excited that I have revived this holiday tradition and I received a couple of phone calls this afternoon to check on my progress...
Grandma Pete's Peppernuts:

1 cup molasses
1 cup dark Karo syrup
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon (not quite) ground cloves
1 teaspoon (a little more) cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground anise
1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 T. vinegar
6 cups flour (more or less)
Heat 1st four ingredients to boiling point, then chill to cool. When cool, add spices, the soda dissolved in vinegar and finally the flour. Mix together to make a real stiff cookie dough. Chill.
Take pieces of the dough and roll into rope lengths. Slice ropes into 1/2 inch thick "peppernut" pieces. Spread pieces on cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool.

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