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Thread: Pfeffernusse - A German Christmas Cookie

  1. #1
    Power Poster Boston1954's Avatar
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    Pfeffernusse - A German Christmas Cookie

    1/2 cup butter
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    1 egg
    1/2 cup sweet cream
    2 tablespoons honey
    1/3 cup white syrup
    1 teaspoon oil of anise
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon pepper, allspice
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
    1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    4 cups flour

    In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Add in wet ingredients.

    Roll into balls about the size or a quarter. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.
    Dust each cookie with powdered sugar.

    (My mother was half German, and this was one of her favorite things to make at this time of year.)
    Life is not a movie. No one is going to yell "CUT" when you make a mistake. - Anne L. Fulton

    I am from the South....39 miles south of Boston.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for sharing this recipe. It sounds delicious.

    I have a couple of questions about ingredients though. Is sweet cream also whipping cream or 1/2 and 1/2?

    White syrup = karo perhaps?

    Thanks again.

  3. #3
    Super Member tuckyquilter's Avatar
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    I LOVE these, but mine are smaller and very hard. They melt on the tongue. All the Mennonite women in my area made them and they were smaller than dimes. One place that still has them is the Mennonite Museum in Gossell, KS and they are the size of Pencil Erasers. I make mine more to the dime size.

    I use my Great Grandmothers Recipe she brought from Russia when they arrived in the late 1800's. They're Mennonite that originated in Holland and called themselves Holland-Dutch. Molasses is in place of your honey, and no syrup or milk. It was the one cookie my son would eat. He's not enthused with sweets of any kind. We had pie or cheesecake for his birthdays. I haven't made them this year (2017) as they are labor intensive, and I'm just not up to it.

    Do you also have the New Years Cake recipe? I can remember waking up at grandma's and the place smelled like a brewery from the yeast bubbling over night. Then she'd mix in some plumped raisins and fry those suckers. Oh How I loved Christmas time as a kid.
    Jackie
    Lover of Scrappy, Chocolate and Wine

  4. #4
    Power Poster Boston1954's Avatar
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    Jim got me some cream today. He could not find anything called sweet cream so he got whipping cream. If I find it too thick I will cut it. Yes, I am using Karo for the white syrup. I think it's the same thing.

    My mother used to have a little recipe book with only pfeffernusse. There were about 48 recipes. This was Mom's favorite. I have seen a lot of recipes for this cookie online.

    Sorry, I have not heard of New Year's cake. Will have to look it up.
    Life is not a movie. No one is going to yell "CUT" when you make a mistake. - Anne L. Fulton

    I am from the South....39 miles south of Boston.

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    Thank you Boston!

    I want to try your recipe and didn't want to substitute a wrong ingredient. Thanks again!

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    Another question if I may.....where does one purchase oil of anise? Also, would there be a good substitution? I greatly dislike licorice and have heard anise resembles its taste. Thank you!

  7. #7
    Super Member GingerK's Avatar
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    Jackie, my Dad's family came from Southern Russia by way of the Netherlands and Germany. Your description of the New Years cake brought back a lot of memories. I have a couple of old ladies aide cook books. Shall check them for the recipe.
    Never argue with an idiot. They'll drag you down the their level and beat you with experience.

  8. #8
    Super Member GingerK's Avatar
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    Okay I have found three recipes for Portzelky (New Years Cookies) all in one Ladies Aid cookbook. They are all quite similar so I will share the one with the most comprehensive directions.

    Portzelky (from the Zoar Church Ladies Aid Cookbook Langham Saskatchewan published circa 1960ish) Courtesy of Mrs. J.S. Thiessen--who I believe was my dad's first or second cousin.

    2 pkgs dry yeast
    2 cups warm water (half potato water)
    5 tbsp. sugar
    1 3/4 cups milk (scalded and cooled)
    2 tsp. salt
    4 eggs
    1 lb. raisins
    2 tsp. baking powder

    Soften yeast in 2 cups water and 5 tbsp. sugar. Let stand for 15 minutes. Then mix in 2 cups flour to make a sponge. Let stand in a warm place. When light add all other ingredients and approx. 4 cups flour to make a stiff batter. Let rise until double and spoon out and fry in deep fat. Be careful not to break all the bubbles.
    Never argue with an idiot. They'll drag you down the their level and beat you with experience.

  9. #9
    Super Member meanmom's Avatar
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    My grandma always made Pfeffernusse cookies. I never like them as I don't like anise. I have never tried, but they sound like they would be good if you just omitted the anise.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by meanmom View Post
    My grandma always made Pfeffernusse cookies. I never like them as I don't like anise. I have never tried, but they sound like they would be good if you just omitted the anise.
    I have not had these cookies, although I am of German ancestry. I'm with you on anise flavor, also I don't like a strong clove taste either. My maternal great grandfather came from Germany to this country. He married an English woman, though. My paternal ancestors were English. The man I married had some native American blood in his ancestry. So my only child is quite a mixture.

  11. #11
    Power Poster Boston1954's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LavenderBlue View Post
    Another question if I may.....where does one purchase oil of anise? Also, would there be a good substitution? I greatly dislike licorice and have heard anise resembles its taste. Thank you!
    I made them today and used Anise extract. I believe that the honey and karo syrup disguise the taste a bit. However if you want to you can leave it out. Maybe put a bit more of the cream for the wet to dry ratio.
    Life is not a movie. No one is going to yell "CUT" when you make a mistake. - Anne L. Fulton

    I am from the South....39 miles south of Boston.

  12. #12
    Power Poster Annaquilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuckyquilter View Post
    I LOVE these, but mine are smaller and very hard. They melt on the tongue. All the Mennonite women in my area made them and they were smaller than dimes. One place that still has them is the Mennonite Museum in Gossell, KS and they are the size of Pencil Erasers. I make mine more to the dime size.

    I use my Great Grandmothers Recipe she brought from Russia when they arrived in the late 1800's. They're Mennonite that originated in Holland and called themselves Holland-Dutch. Molasses is in place of your honey, and no syrup or milk. It was the one cookie my son would eat. He's not enthused with sweets of any kind. We had pie or cheesecake for his birthdays. I haven't made them this year (2017) as they are labor intensive, and I'm just not up to it.

    Do you also have the New Years Cake recipe? I can remember waking up at grandma's and the place smelled like a brewery from the yeast bubbling over night. Then she'd mix in some plumped raisins and fry those suckers. Oh How I loved Christmas time as a kid.
    Could you share your recipe?
    Anna Quilts

  13. #13
    Power Poster Onebyone's Avatar
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    Leave out the anise and use molasses instead of syrup and it would be a gingerbread recipe.
    I believe giving what I can will never cause me to be in need.
    Being cheap is not a badge of honor.
    My heroes are working people, paying their own way, taking care of their children and being decent human beings.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by meanmom View Post
    My grandma always made Pfeffernusse cookies. I never like them as I don't like anise. I have never tried, but they sound like they would be good if you just omitted the anise.

    Same here, do not like anise flavor. So one year I made some with and some without. Omitted they are spicy and good too.

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