Raiding the larder of ideas.

What one family eats, plans to eat, dreams of eating. Plus, other food and kitchen-related stuff from the home of steak-and-potatoes, pie and fresh green beans from the garden.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Recipe Card: Grandma Heitmann's Pfeffernusse, and Variation on a Theme

The Bat's favorite dunker. Once upon a time, the family recipe used so much flour, comparatively, that it rivaled some masonry for sturdiness. We used this recipe, once, to make a gingerbread house which would not collapse, no matter how abused it got during the entire holiday season. Even the heavy-duty Kitchen-Aid mixer couldn't handle the last stages of mixing the dough, so it had to be stirred by hand with a very strong-handled wooden spoon.

But when we dunked these little gems into hot cider or coffee, we knew Christmas was upon us.
top line gives instructions: 10 min.  375º 
By following this recipe one can make a great honkin' heap of cookies, one tablespoonful at a time, shaped into balls or rolled out to 1/4- to 1/3
-inch thickness and cut into your favorite shapes. I think we made about 200 of those walnut-sized jawbreakers at a time. In later years, the Bat would often toss at least half the dough into the freezer, so we could continue to have fresh warm cookies for the next few months.

More recently, though, we've reduced our intake of coffee, cider, and other beverages worthy of dunking. This makes it hard to get our teeth through the traditional spicy stones. Therefore, The Bat adapted the formula (and halved it) so that we could eat the treats just like any other cookies, should the need arise. Of course, they're still awesome when dunked, but now mere mortals can partake of these fine treats without damage to enamel or jaw, when just snitched from the cookie jar. 

And, they do make pretty nice decorations on a Christmas tree, if, when you roll the dough out and cut it with your shaped cookie cutters, you drill a hole near the top at least 1/4 inch in diameter (through which you can thread a ribbon or string when the cookies cool). They resemble gingerbread cookies in color, and you can decorate them the same way, but they're more durable, and they don't really go stale, even when left out in the air, for several days. For any longer, though, if you want to use them as edible ornaments, seal them in plastic before hanging them up, or give them to the birds and squirrels when the tree comes down.

Grandma Heitmann's Pfeffernusse (modern, kinder-to-teeth variation)


1 pt dk Karo Syrup [dark syrup]
1 c sugar [granulated]
1/2 lb butter [1 cup, unsalted]
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbs baking soda, dissolved in boiling water or coffee [just enough hot liquid to actually dissolve the soda – about 1 Tbs.]
1 tsp allspice 
3/4 cup ground pecans
8 c. all-purpose flour


Preheat oven to 375º F.

In a large bowl, cream syrup, sugar, and butter.  Add eggs, soda liquid, allspice, and ground pecans. Mix in 6 cups of flour, then gradually add in the last 2 cups of flour. The dough will be very thick and heavy, so you will probably need to stir it in by hand, at the very last. 

Using a 1-inch scoop [or a tablespoon], drop in balls onto cookie sheet.  [You can instead roll out and cut into shapes, but will need to adjust baking time – watch for the edges to turn color.] Bake 11 minutes.  Cool on rack. 

Makes about 8 dozen walnut-sized cookies.

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