Making cookies is a seasonal thing to me. The spirits of giving. The holiday buzz. Sugar and spices. They are all nice to bake with. Pfefferneusee, which means pepper nut, is Dorie’s December cookie selection for her make-the-world-sweet campaign: #cookiesandkindness.
At the same time, the Cookies For Kids Cancer has a $250,000 challenge grant that must be met by December 31. Every time anyone bakes from Dorie’s cookies and tags a post #doriescookies and @cookies4kids a $5 contribution is automatically triggered. I support Dorie’s effort with everything I can bring from my kitchen.
Dorie told us more about the recipe:
“It doesn’t make any difference whether or not you can pronounce the name of these cookies – you’ll love them! They’re a cookie that’s been popular for Christmas in Europe for years (as in centuries) and there’s a reason they’ve stood the test of so much time: they’re easy to make, long-lasting and full of flavor. The name means ‘pepper nut’ and, in fact, there is black pepper and chopped pecans in the cookie. But there’s also cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and a pinch of dry mustard, which acts as a picker-upper for all the other spices. If you’ve never had pfefferneusse, you’re in for a treat.”
Indeed, this cookie is easy to make. Fold in the dry ingredients, all-purpose flour and spices and all, to the butter-sugar mixture, which has been creamed and whipped together, until it is light and pale. Next came the eggs. I ignored the dreaded look of curdling as Dorie has suggested. She rarely misses a beat on those potential pitfalls, that tend to raise your eyebrow, if not your heart rate. Her attention to details is why I trust her recipes. Chopped pecans were added last. I used a small cookie scoop to portion and used my palm to shape the dough into round balls and placed them on a cookie sheet. It took about 20 minutes to bake these cookies until they turned light brown in a 350°F oven. They did not spread much at all in the oven.
These cookies have a surprisingly mild flavor despite all the warm and peppery spices that went into the dough. More like a kiss. They do clearly spell “holidays,” and they are lovable. Spicy flavor seems to be present in the background as compared with the more forward citrus flavor from the freshly grated orange zest. To me, the orange note turns out to be the favorite part of these cookies. The texture of the cookie is a hard crunch. I wouldn’t mind having an easier and a more effortless bite. Decrease the amount of sugar (or use a combination of sugar and agave nectar) would make sense to do in the next round to adjust the crunch factor while making the cookies a tad more healthy to eat.