Patti’s Peppernuts (Pfeffernuesse)


I’m visiting James’ family in the Dominican Republic. We’re having a very Christmassy time even though we’ll actually spend Christmas at a cottage on a beach.  Today we made wreathes, listened to Christmas music, and made peppernuts. This is the second time we’ve made peppernuts because the first batch was eaten in less than 24 hours. Patti, James’ mom, got this recipe from her cousin, Marcia Glick. I have another Pfeffernuesse recipe on this blog, but this version is a lot crunchier which is the way the family prefers them. This is a traditional Russian-German Mennonite cookie, but I’m pretty sure they’re also Dutch. Please use fresh ginger if you can, it adds a lot!

1 1/3 C sugar

1/4 C margarine

1 egg

1 T molasses

1 1/2 T fresh ginger, grated

3 T hot water

1/4 t baking soda

3/4 t baking powder

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t ground cloves

1/4 t nutmeg

1 t black pepper

1/4 C pecans or walnuts finely chopped in blender (optional)

4 C flour

  1. Combine first 6 ingredients: sugar, margarine, egg, molasses, ginger, and hot water
  2. In a separated bowl combine next 6 ingredients: baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper
  3. Add chopped nuts to the dry bowl
  4. Stir dry and wet ingredients together
  5. Add the flour last and gradually. This is very important. If you add all the flour at once, you will probably have a very dry dough that is impossible to roll into snakes. So, add the flour a half cup at a time. I usually need about 3 cups.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  7. Roll into snakes the diameter of a penny and freeze at least 2 hours
  8. Cut diagonally into centimeter thick pieces
  9. Bake on greased pans for 12 minutes or until the undersides are browned. Peppernuts should be crunchy when cooled.
  10. Cool on towels
  11. The original recipe also says “Store in glass jars. Allow to cure for one week if you can!” I think this is unlikely and I wouldn’t bother with the “curing” since they’re hard enough already.

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