Biscuits and Cookies / Uncategorized

On the ninth day…Pfeffernusse biscuits

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On the ninth day of Christmas Stephen baked for me…Pfeffernusse biscuits! These small round biscuits are made from ground nuts and spices and are a traditional biscuit in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. They are made for the feast of ‘Sinterklaas’ (Santa Claus) on December 5th when children in these parts receive gifts from St. Nicholas.

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Other nuts such as walnuts have been used and some modern recipes omit them altogether. Personally I would always include nuts a recipe that traditionally calls for them. They bring about flavour and texture that simply cannot be replicated by flour alone. Black pepper is also added to the dough for a bit of spice. I haven’t used any in this recipe as I was making these for an evening when fussy eaters were coming over.

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These a nice alternative to gingerbread biscuits which seem to have been in abundant supply in my house recently. There is a little ginger present here but the star of the show is the cinnamon. You can mix up the spices to suit your personal tastes.

You will need:

1 large egg
110g caster sugar
½ tbsp rum
½ tbsp cinnamon
pinch each of nutmeg, ginger and cloves
½ tsp baking powder
110g plain flour
50g ground almonds
1 tbsp mixed peel
2 tsp lemon juice
100-125g icing sugar

How to do it:

1. Place the egg and sugar in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk with electric beaters until thick, pale and mousse like. Add the rum and mix in briefly. Remove from the heat and sift in the flour, spices, pinch of salt. Finally add in the ground almonds and mixed peel.
2. The dough will be rather stiff at this point so place it onto a clean worktop and knead a few times until it comes together in a smooth dough. Divide into 10 pieces and roll each one into a ball.
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Place onto a lined baking tray giving each one a little space on each side.
3. It is best to leave these to dry out for a few hours, overnight if you can, so try and leave them for 3 hours minimum. When ready to bake preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until just firm and a lovely light brown.
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4. Cool on a wire rack whilst you make the icing.
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Simply beat the icing sugar and lemon juice together to make a loose but spreadable coating. Brush over the slightly warm biscuits and leave to set.

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What a flavour these biscuits have! Crunchy on the outside with a little bit of chew in the middle, it is hard not to eat several. The ground almonds are responsible for the slightly moist centre as their natural oils will be released during cooking. Something you wouldn’t get if flour was used instead! Sorry gluten intolerant people.

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This was my first time making these biscuits and as ever I’m always looking for ways to improve. For one I think a little more mixed peel could be added to give a little extra texture along with some black pepper just to see what the affect would be. Icing them is also an option because these biscuits on their own carry enough flavour, the icing only really brings around some extra sweetness. Also I’m a big fan of Amaretto so I may add that to it next time, but would need to make sure a case of almond overload doesn’t occur!

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Thanks for visiting,

Stephen

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