If you're looking for a simple recipe to make and package for friends for homemade Christmas gifts, or to take to a gathering try making a batch of Pfeffernusse. While reading Matthew Evans 'Summer on Fat Pig Farm' I came across a recipe for Spiced biscuits, described as 'Almost like a Pfeffernusse'. This lead me on a search to find out what Pfeffernusse is and a morning of biscuit making. With ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves the mixing and baking really does bring Christmas spice scents into your kitchen. It is very satisfying rolling the smooth biscuit dough into small balls, and once cooked and cooled they had a lovely chewy texture and of course the delicious spice flavour. Matthew writes, 'they remind me of the European Christmas I've never had'. In one of life's coincidences, the very next day in the shop I had a lovely conversation with a woman of German heritage, who grew up with German food, and she recalled memories of her mum making Pfeffernusse. She couldn't believe that I had just made it and she was even able to explain what it means, pepper and nut. I am still working on the pronunciation.
Spiced biscuits (almost like a Pfeffernusse)
From Summer on Fat Pig Farm by Matthew Evans
Ingredients: 150g butter (softened), 190g dark brown sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp natural vanilla essence, 270g plain flour, 50g (1/2 cup) almond meal, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp salt, icing sugar mixture for dusting.
Method: Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Line two baking trays with baking paper. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then add the egg and vanilla and mix. Fold in the flour, almond meal, baking powder, spices and salt, and mix until a dough forms. Roll dough into balls about the diameter of a 20 cent piece and place on baking trays about 3cm apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes in the centre of the oven, turning the trays around about half way through, until lightly browned. Let them cool slightly then dust or roll in icing sugar.
I'd like to try these variations on Pfeffernusse.
Pfeffernusse spice cookies by Anneka Manning
Pfeffernusse, Gourmet Traveller
Pfeffernusse, The Australian Women's Weekly