January 15, 2013

gesundheit!


It's no secret that I love linguistics and have a fascination with words and their origins. Words from the English language have intrigued me for years, and now that I've begun learning German, it seems I'm moving into an obsession with its etymology.


I mean, words like Pustblume (dandelion), Teufelsbraten (rascal), and Eichhörnchen (squirrel) really just roll off the tongue, am I right? The best word that I've learned so far is Schwangerschaftverhütungsmittel, which means contraceptive. That's a mouthful, but boy is it a great (and important!) word.


One other thing that's fun about the German language is the pf- combination. Are there any words in English that use it? I couldn't think of any, other than compound words. Two of my favorite German words make use of it--Pferd (horse) and Pfeffernüsse (literally pepper nuts).

Yes, we've finally come to the point of my ramblings--Pfeffernüsse! Have you tried these delightful cookies? I really only see them around the holidays, but they deserve to be served year-round. All KINDS of spices (the more freshly-ground, the better!) are included in these beauts, from black pepper to cardamom. Plus, they get a coating of powdered sugar AND a glaze--double whammy!


Don't wait til next Christmas to try these--get a few about ten practice runs in first. By the way, these things last for weeks, and the longer they age, the more the spices mingle and become pronounced. Hurra!

Pfeffernüsse
Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients:
  • 1-1/4 cups butter, softened
  • 1-1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 cups cake flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon mace
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly-cracked pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground anise seeds
  • 2 cups finely chopped nuts
  • Powdered sugar and/or glaze (recipe follows)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Sift together flour, spices, salt, and baking soda.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses and water.
Add the sifted dry ingredients to this mixture and combine well; stir in the nuts.
Cover dough and refrigerate for one hour.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place the balls onto a greased cookie sheet (you may flatten them slightly if you wish). Bake for 12 to 13 minutes.
Cool the cookies for a couple of minutes, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely. Place the cookies in an airtight bowl, cover tightly, and allow to ripen for about 2 weeks.
When ready to consume, prepare the glaze: Gradually add 1 tablespoon of milk to 1 cup sifted powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Flavor with vanilla or anise extract. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze then into powdered sugar and place on a rack. Decorate with colored sprinkles and let sit until the glaze has set.
If you'd rather skip the glaze, just roll the cookies in powdered sugar before serving.

34 comments:

the southern hostess said...

Yum! I could cuddle up with these and some hot chocolate right about now.

Pam said...

A German lesson and cookies all in one post! Really you are too kind :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A cookie I adore. Yours look delicious!

I love this language.

Cheers,

Rosa

Jackie@Syrup and Biscuits said...

What a pfun and pflavorful post! I share your pfascination with words......and pfier...er....pfernu...er...pfiefern....er....those little spice cookies!

Joanne said...

German words are SO much fun to say. ANd eat. These pfeffernuse look so tasty! I love all the spices.

There must be some kind of slang for contraceptive. I can't imagine saying that every time I...you know. :P

Barbara said...

Schwangerschaftverhütungsmittel? Geez, by the time you say it, it will be too late. :)
On the other hand, a plateful of these fab cookies will definitely take our minds off everything. I LOVE those spices!

Annmarie Pipa said...

I have a son who loves linguists too...good luck with your German!! have a cookie for me!

Sue/the view from great island said...

Great post, Grace! My daughter is off studying linguistics in Dublin this semester, I'll send this to her! I think the cookies look wonderful, I love the proportion of spices and honey to the flour. I'm thinking they might make a good scone, too.

bellini said...

I don't know if they would last a few weeks in my home.

Lisa-Marie said...

I LOVE pfeffernusse! However, they are Christmas only treats for us usually.

I doubt I can wait that long to make them though. Can I blame you? ;)

Juliana said...

Nice post Grace...and the cookies sure sound and look awesome...I love all the spice in it...
Have a great week!

Blond Duck said...

How have I never had this in my life? I'm married to a German.

Carolyn Jung said...

Love the hit of heat in these cookies. Helps balance out the sweetness in a wonderful way.

Guru Uru said...

What a delicious looking recipe :)

Cheers
Choc Chip Uru

Lucie said...

I am a firm believer in Christmas cookies all year long - glad to see I'm not alone!

chowwithchow said...

Ganz toll! Let's petition for Pfeffernüsse all year round!

I Wilkerson said...

It took me three tries just to get Christmas Cowboy Cookies right last year, so I'll start practicing these around Thanksgiving ;-) (I don't think I dare have them around all year ;-) )

Chineka (savorthebaking) said...

It's great that you are learning German. I will try these and I love the spices that are included.

cakewhiz said...

i wish i had the patience and the skills to learn a new language but sadly, i get distracted and bored or i just give up...lol. it's great that you are learning german... i like the way it sounds...hehhe

vianney said...

way to go on learning german~ how funa nd these cookies are sweet!

Beth said...

Those look delicious! I'd love to eat them year round too.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

You're bringing back memories of when I was in High School learning German. We used to always love saying schwarzwalder kirschtorte!! :P

Andrea said...

This post is a mouthful and mouthwatering!

Leslie said...

Ok..I need a translation for that post ;)

Love what you made, even though I cant pronounce it. lol

Mimi said...

Eating your way through the German language. Now thats a language lesson that I could endorse.
Mimi

Rosita Vargas said...

Realmente exquisito me encantan las galletitas,abrazos y abrazos.

Half Baked said...

Eichhörnchen, one of the few non food words I remember from my time living in Germany...it didn't help much when I got stuck in the parking garage! lol Love Pfeffernüsse cookies!

vanillasugarblog said...

that's how i feel about my danish roots when it comes to well danishes and danish cookies.

Erica said...

I think that English is a hard language to learn ....I can't imagine learning German!The cookies look delicious!

Katerina said...

These cookies have all my beloved spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, all spice! They must be full of flavors and aromas!

shaz said...

What? I didn't realise these delicious biccies could be made at home? Thank you Grace! I am definitely on the case. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and best wishes for the new year!

dentistvschef said...

i love anything spices up....
when i read about the recipes, iknow i can use my homemade garam masala...
http://www.google.com/url?q=http://dentistvschef.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/homemade-garam-masala-indian-spice-from-scratch-ala-dentist-chef/&sa=U&ei=wU4BUfmZN4zqrQfS9YDwCQ&ved=0CBcQFjAB&usg=AFQjCNFcBondtdO2bx0OWLQ3phqtEZMV1A

Gloria said...

Grace look amazing and loveall the spices they have:)))

Laura said...

I have always wanted to make these! Yours look awesome!

PS you watching Continuum?