Peppernuts, Pepper Nuts, Pfeffernuss, Pfeffernusse, Pfeffernuesse, Peppernoten, Pebernodder, Pimpernusse . . . The Little Cookie with the BIG Christmas Taste!

     These spicy little cookies are believed to have come to America with
immigrants sometime in the 19th century. There are lots of recipes for peppernuts – some even do contain pepper and others are laced with ground almonds or walnuts.
     I’d never even heard of peppernuts until we went to a teacher’s gathering at the Wedel’s home following a December basketball game some years ago. Cindy had a big bowl of them in the kitchen . . . I had one (actually quite a few) and have been making them ever since.
     And every time I make them, I am also reminded of a story that Cindy told about the cookies. It seems she baked a batch to take to a Christmas party at the bank where she worked. Obviously it was bank president Ernie Morris’ first encounter with peppernuts, too as he said, “Who brought the dog biscuits?” Well, the shape may be somewhat similar, but their spicy taste is addictive and the aroma, while baking, fills the house with the scents of Christmas.
    
Molasses "Kiss" Peppernuts
2/3 cup molasses
1/2 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
The molasses & water will begin to
fizz when soda is added.
1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 1/2 cups all-purpose but may need more

1. Mix the molasses and boiling water together; add the soda. Add remaining ingredients using enough flour so that  the dough doesn’t stick to fingers.  Cover and refrigerate overnight for improved flavor. 

    
2. The next day, if dough is a little sticky, work in additional flour. Working with small batches of dough, roll into pencil thin snakes and cut off very small portions.  

I use a bench knife to quickly portion the rolls into bite-size pieces.
      I place on silicon or parchment-lined jelly roll pans (fairly close together)

3.  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in a preheated 350° oven.

4.  After removing from the oven, let them set a few minutes; then gently push them off onto a cooling rack. They crisp up as they cool.

Historically, ladies used to take pride in how small they could make these cookies – ideally about the size of a hazelnut or dime but a really skilled baker could make them as small as a large pea.


Other peppernut recipes on this blog include: 
Peppernuts: Hint-of-Anise

Recipe without photos  . . .
Molasses "Kiss" Peppernuts
2/3 cup molasses
1/2 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 1/2 cups all-purpose but may need more 

1. Mix the molasses and boiling water together; add the soda. Add remaining ingredients using enough flour so that  the dough doesn’t stick to fingers.  Cover and refrigerate overnight for improved flavor. 
2. The next day, if dough is a little sticky, work in additional flour. Working with small batches of dough, roll into pencil thin snakes and cut off very small portions. 
3.  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in a preheated 350° oven.
4.  After removing from the oven, let them set a few minutes; then gently push them off onto a cooling rack. They crisp up as they cool.

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