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
Makes about 3 dozen
- 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)
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.