Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pfeffernüsse - Outdoor Wednesday







Over the weekend we happened upon a Christmas tree harvest at a local farm. It was fascinating to watch. I was amazed by a seeming contradiction as we watched the process. It's become highly mechanized but still remains quite labor intensive. The men, using specialized equipment, moved in teams to fell, bundle, lift and transport the trees. They completed in a day what would have taken weeks not long ago.




From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...My feature of the day was to have been Transylvanian Goulash. Since there was no way to tie it to a Christmas tree harvest, I thought a holiday cookie recipe might be more appropriate. Pfeffernüsse are a favorite of mine. Today's very old and authentic recipe comes from Hannie, in whose German kitchen I learned to make them. Pfeffernüsse are spicy cookies that are part of the Christmas traditions in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark. The name translates to peppernuts and it accurately describes their spicy taste as well as the fact that they contain finely chopped nuts and a small amount of black pepper. Spices vary in different versions of the recipe, as does the coating which can range from a liberal application of confectioners' sugar to a thick glaze. The cookies are very easy to make, but they need to be refrigerated in order to shape them, so plan accordingly. Here's the recipe.

Pfeffernüsse ...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

Ingredients:
2 -1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup very finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup very finely chopped candied orange peel
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
1/3 cup dark molasses
1/3 cup brandy
Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:
1) Mix flour, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and black pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.
2) In a separate bowl, beat white and brown sugars into butter. Add egg yolks and mix to combine. Add almonds, orange peel, lemon zest and mix. Stir one third of flour mixture into butter mixture. then add molasses and brandy. Mix in remainder of flour mixture. When fully blended, cover dough and refrigerate overnight.
3) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon measure, form dough into balls and place them on prepared cookie sheets, 1-1/2 inches, apart. Bake for 14 -15 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool on cookie sheets. Roll in confectioners sugar. Store in airtight container. Yield: 42 cookies.

Here are some other interpretations of Pfeffernüsse:
A Bowl of Mush - Pfeffernüsse
Global Gourmet - Pfeffernüsse
The Barefoot Kitchen Witch - Pfeffernüsse

This is being linked to:
Outdoor Wednesday - A Southern Daydreamer

53 comments:

Joops said...

Yum! That looks inviting.

The scenery is beautiful!

We drove around to see the nature's beauty last week, please come and see!

Diann said...

Hi Mary!

These are my all time favorite cookie! I LOVE them. I have been too intiminated to attempt to make them. Maybe, I will try this year.

We have been seeing tons of trucks loaded down with Christmas trees from here in Michigan as well. All heading down south. My husband used to drive over the road. One year he picked up a load of trees in Northern Michigan and headed to Texas with them.
They cut and loaded the trees while he waited. We were having a major snow blizzard at the time so, a ton of snow was packed in with the trees. When he got to Texas the next day, the guy at the lot was so excited to see all the snow had clung and froze on to the branches that he was able to sell the trees for a larger amount! My husband said it was amazing how excited people were to get a Christmas tree that had snow on it!
to this day, that trip was one of his all time favorite ones!

Okay, that was way more info than you wanted!LOL

Have a great day!

Debinhawaii said...

Great cookies--perfect for a Christmas plate and interesting Christmas tree harvest photos--I didn't realize they did it that way. Fun!

Donna-FFW said...

Ive never made these before, but have had them, love them around holiday time, they look so pretty!

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful post on the tree farm and the cookie recipe sounds delicious.

mbkatc230 said...

Amazing photos of the tree harvest! I had no idea they used helicopters to move them, how interesting! I love Pfeffernusse cookies, unfortunately I'm the only one in my family who does. Happy Outdoor Wednesday. Kathy

SmilingSally said...

Interesting pictures, Mary; you have the most enjoyable blog. I learn while I drool. I hope you have a great day.

Cathy said...

I remember these lovely cookies from childhood. When I see a recipe posted I know the holidays are just around the corner.

chubskulit said...

I always love your post because of the recipes!

Please check out our last road trip here in Korea.

Hootin' Anni said...

Wow...what an ordeal for harvesting trees for the holidays! Those cookies remind me a little bit of the "Mexican Wedding Cakes". Kinda sorta.

My Outdoor Wednesday is the continuation from last week's venture...today, what we bought.

The Peddler Show

Happy Wednesday wishes to you.

Mary said...

Diann, I loved the information. I could picture the faces looking at those trees with snow on them.

Tanyia said...

I have never had these! They so perfectly look like little snowballs though!

ellen b. said...

Hi Mary,
Thanks for showing us that Christmas tree harvest process. I've never really thought about how all those trees get to the lowlands :0)
The cookies look really good...

LDH said...

Neat that you happened upon the trees being harvested ~ love the picture with the helicopter!

Pfeffernüsse cookie look pretty and tasty.

As always, a delight to visit with you!

Light and Voices said...

Interesting...I didn't know they used helicopters for a tree harvest either. May I have a cookie please?
Joyce M

Vickie's Michigan Garden (my backyard) said...

Mary,
I have never seen them use helicopters before-what a fantastic view! Your cookies are something I definelty want to make for Chirstmas. I like how you put the two together.
Have an wonderful outdoor Wednesday
vickie

Pam said...

That's neat. We always go to the "U cut" Christmas tree farm to get our tree. It's a family tradition.

Bonnie said...

I never seen a tree harvest before. Thanks for sharing.

Southern Lady said...

Hi, Mary! It was interesting to see the Christmas tree harvesting pictures. They look like they have it down to an art.

Your cookies look so elegant, and made my mouth water. Thank you for sharing Hannie's recipe with us.

Anita said...

Wow, some of those trees might be heading to my part of the world (Texas) soon! I can't believe they use helicopters...Happy Outdoor Wednesday Mary!

Farmer Jo said...

These are my favorite cookie! I hoard them from trader joes. I am going to attempt this recipe this year. Thanks for posting it.

Debbie said...

I have never seen these homemade before. My grandmother was German and we always had these around Christmas every year!

Riet said...

Hi Mary. Thank you very much for always taking the time to comment so lovely on my blog. This time I would like to tell you something. Pfeffernusse are entirely different in Holland and I believe in Belgium too. The recipe does not differ very much from the german cookies but the size is different. Our pfeffernusse are little like about half an inch size drops on the baking tray. Don't know how else to explain. We eat pfeffernusse once a year only at Santa Claus, we call that Sinterklaas. We celebrate that on the 5th of December and exchange presents like you do at Christmas.There is a lot to find at google about Sinterklaas if you are interested.
Hve a nice day, Riet

Mary said...

Riet, thank you for the information regarding the size of the cookies in Holland. I knew about the celebrations of the 5th and 6th but not about the size of the cookies served outside of Germany on those days. Blessings...Mary

Coralie Cederna Johnson said...

Oh, Mary! I do love these great Christmas treats! They are a staple every year and have been since I was little! Your recipe looks excellent as always! Thanks so much!

A Gracious Home said...

The cookies sound great and look beautiful. I will have to make them for Christmas. Doylene

Pam said...

I've never had this type of cookie before - it looks wonderful. They do look like the perfect holiday cookie.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I saw Christmas trees in a lot just today! How interesting to see them being harvested that way.

Thank you so much for the authentic German recipe!

LV said...

Really enjoyed my cookies today. I guess I just have not gotten into the holiday spirit yet. Seems they start putting out Christmas much too soon.

The Blonde Duck said...

As Ben is from German descendant (his German great grandfather actually started the Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg here,) I shall have to make these.

Katy ~ said...

For the longest time I have wanted to make these. I think this could be the year, grins. Yours look so good that I don't know why I am delaying.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Hi Mary
The Christmas tree harvest was interesting to see! It seems earluy to be cutting down trees..now I know why the needles fall off so quickly when I buy a "fresh" tree in the middle of DEcember..lol

Pfeffernusse are among my favorite Christmas cookies! I shall try your recipe..thanks!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

What wonderful timing - I've been meaning to make Pfeffernüsse for this Christmas. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

Teresa said...

Cookies look delicious! The Christmas tree farm is interesting. we take it for granted that those trees magically appear in all the lots, forgetting all the work behind them. We always cut our own, but so many people rely on them being cut for them. That was an eye opener. thanks

Gillian Lee said...

When I was a forestry student at MU, the forestry club managed a Christmas tree farm. I can assure you, we did not employ a helicopter! :-) Great photos!

Peg @ Bloomfield Farm said...

Your kitchen is beautiful... so sleek and modern! The tree harvest was interesting. I never imagined the use of a helicopter! Cookies look delicious too!

Lori said...

Pfeffernuse. I use to hate it when my Dad would bring it home. Now I love it. Some things get better as we age, huh. Looks so good Mary. Everything you do looks good.

Carly said...

I would not have thought that it would be cost effective to use a helicopter to move Christmas trees.

The Cooking Photographer said...

I made Pfeffernüsse last year, but the version you learned is much nicer. I'm going to try this one for Christmas. Thank-you Mary for this recipe.

toni said...

These are my favorite cookies of all - light as a cloud but so very satisfying!

the ungourmet said...

My high school sweetheart was German and his grandmother make the most wonderful Pfeffernusse! I haven't had any in forever. Your recipe looks scrumptious!

My Little Space said...

Oh... another yummy cookie recipe. It's in my list to do. Thank you, Mary. And those pictures on top are amazing. Thanks.

KathyB. said...

I have never made pfefferneuse but think I might this year. All my friends who do make this start about now.

It is amazing how so many things that at one time were so labor intensive have been made a bit easier by "technology", as this Christmas tree harvest is .

jeanne said...

Good morning Mary, visiting yesterday just didn't happen for me. I am getting over a cold and we were committed to play duplicate bridge. It was a stretch for me but we won first place. Worth the effort. I came home and slept. Dom't get sick!!! YUK.

The Christmas tree operation would have been something to watch. Good bloggers always have their camera ready. Great photos.

Your cookie recipe is one I love. MY sister-in-law always makes those cookies for our Christmas cookie bake. Every year our family gets together for a cookie bake. We do it in my home because I have large rooms and an extra oven in the cabin close by. I will post it later.

Have a wonderful day.

Hugs, Jeanne

daylily777 said...

Very Interesting post about Christmas Tree harvesting & great pics. The cookies look yummy, I have never heard of before. I always learn something new here .8~)
~Myrns

Janean said...

ooooooooooooh, yummy!

Janean said...

pepper sounds like a wonderful spice for a cookies....could you give a substitute for the brandy?

Erica said...

Hi Mary.......
I love those cookies, my Mom use to buy them from this lil' German bakery when we were growing up. I liked to dunk them into my coffee as weird as that sounds. Your blog is always so enjoyable and so many great recipes and pictures..... thanks for sharing.

Have a great day!!!

Ms. Bake-it said...

Oh my gosh! I love Pfeffernüsse and my mom makes them every Christmas for me. Our recipe has been handed down through our family for generations. I always put aside enough to freeze so I can dole them out to myself and enjoy them for months afterward.

~ Tracy

Bridgett said...

My goodness, with all those spices, you know they are going to be incredible. What a gorgeous recipe. The big pile on a plate would be more than inviting to a holiday gathering.

The Blonde Duck said...

Happy Thursday!

zurin said...

Those cookies looks so inviting. Ive never heard of cookies with black pepper in them...it must be good with all those spices n then the black pepper...very very interesting.tq for sharing :))

Barbie Jo said...

I too have been cutting back on my cookie baking Mary, my family is all grown and gone. I gave all my cookie cutters to my girls last year and they were not happy campers LOL! These cookies I will probably make though, my Mom and Grandmother made them every year, they are a personal favorite of mine.
Merry Christmas!

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