Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Light Peppernuts

A Christmas family tradition from Grandma Friesen. They are small, round cookies that are especially delightful with coffee. My theory is that cookies like this became a Christmas holiday treat because of all the chilling and freezing involved. In the days before refrigerators and freezers it would have been difficult to make these in the summer. Definitely worth the trouble.

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup hard margarine
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon mace (substitute nutmeg if you can't find mace)
1/4 teaspoon ground star anise (or 1/8 tsp anise extract)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sour milk or buttermilk
4 cups all purpose flour

In medium sized saucepan, bring sugar, corn syrup, margarine, cloves, ginger, mace and star anise to a boil. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

To cooled syrup mixture add egg, baking soda and milk. Mix in flour. You will have a very stiff batter/ very soft dough.

Refrigerate/ chill for half an hour, or until dough is firm.

Roll the dough into strips; I use a large plastic spatula to scoop out a "hand full" of dough, then quickly roll it into 1 to 2 inch diameter strips. If the dough feels too sticky, rolling it on a large plastic container lid has been successful, and the odd time I've been in a hurry and have tried rolling dough before it's chilled enough, actually rolling it WITH the spatula ON the plastic lid has worked.

Place dough strips on a waxed paper or plastic wrap lined cookie sheet, and place cookie sheet in the freezer. (If I plan to bake peppernut cookies a few at a time, I will wrap each strip of dough in plastic wrap and when they're frozen, I'll put the frozen strips in a freezer bag)

Freeze strips until hard, then remove, one at a time, and slice the strips into 1/4 - 1/2 inch pieces. Place 1/2 inch apart on a greased baking sheet, and bake at 350* F. for 5-8 minutes, until golden brown.

Immediately remove cookies from baking sheets to paper towel covered counters. I've found this to be my best bet for cooling cookies, as they're too small to stay on a cooling rack.

When cooled, store in airtight containers or storage bags.

Makes an Extra Large Freezer bag full (38cm X 46cm bag- the ones that come in a box of 10).

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