Peppernuts are my husband’s favorite Christmas cookie, but I did not grow up with them since I’m neither Dutch, German, or Mennonite. This recipes is different from most peppernut recipes in that it has more of some of the spices and it includes fresh ginger. The fresh ginger comes from living in places where it’s easier to find fresh ginger than dry.
The good thing about peppernuts is that they’re very flavorful and good for munching. They are sort of a strange cookie though. They’re supposed to be hard and crunchy like nuts (hence the name). They have lots of black pepper in them.
James’ family recipe for them isn’t specific about the amount of flour to use, so you have to know when the dough “looks right”. That’s the part that I’m bad at. I expect recipes to have actually quantities of ingredients and I didn’t know what peppernut dough was supposed to look like. So I would just dump all the flour in and end up with a dough that was impossible to roll into snakes (like the original recipes says to do).
So this year, I am proud to announce that I have figured out the right amount of flour for peppernuts! Less than 6 cups. At least, less than 6 cups if you use the same flour as I do and live in a dry, cool place. So I still recommend adding the flour gradually until the dough is stiff, but doesn’t crumble apart when you try to work with it.
- 2 C sugar
- 1/2 C butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 2 T molasses
- 2 t hot water
- 1 T ground fresh ginger (or grated)
Add and mix in:
- 1/2 t baking soda
- 1 1/2 t baking powder
- 2 t cinnamon
- 1/4 t ground dry ginger (optional)
- 1/2 t cloves
- 1/2 t nutmeg
- 2 t ground black pepper
- 1/2 C finely chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts (optional)
Add gradually (by the 1/2 cup) and stir in until you have a stiff (but not crumbly) dough:
- 6 C flour (or less)
Split the dough between 2 large resealable bags and roll 1/4 inch thick. Refrigerate overnight. Cut the slab into cubes and bake for about 14 minutes in a 350 F oven. Let cool on a dish towel before storing in glass jars. You may roll the dough into thin snakes (instead of a slab) before refrigerating if you want.
Previous peppernut recipes:
Soft Peppernuts – This was the first recipe I used for peppernuts. I liked them, but James thinks they’re too soft.
Patti’s Peppernuts – This is the recipe James’ family uses. I recently edited the flour amount, so the recipe should work better now.