Pfeffernüsse! What a strange word! A quick glance more than likely triggers German decent. Since we are in the midst of the Christmas season good possibility it has reference to some type of food. Actually if your mind followed that train of thought you are absolutely on the right track. They are special to the holiday season being one of the oldest of German cookies and an excellent addition to any Christmas cookie plate. Perfect size rolled in spiced, usually powdered, sugar for dunking in coffee, tea, mulled cider, hot chocolate or traditionally in wine. Or don’t dunk them at all! Depending on how large or small/hard or soft, you may want to just pop one in your mouth savoring the spicy flavor as it softens on your tongue. Then, chew the last tiny bits.
December 23 is...
National Pfeffernüesse Day
Pfeffernüsse (pronounced FEH-fehr-NEE-suh) means “peppernuts”. They are not nuts at all but hard, spicy cookies, often dunked in wine during a visit (think of a tea party with wine). The “nuts” refer to the nut-like hardness of the cookie; the recipe includes gingerbread spices (anise, cloves, nutmeg), pepper and citron. The black pepper adds to the spiciness without adding heat.
A Bit of Pfeffernüsse History...
The exact origin of the little pfeffernüsse is uncertain but it is referred to as a tiny biscuit as often as a cookie since it is traditionally a Dutch creation. It is definitely linked to the feast of Sinterklaas, celebrated on December 5 in The Netherlands and December 6 in Germany and Belgium. This is when children receive gifts from St. Nicholas, who is partially the inspiration for the Santa Claus tradition. In Germany, the pfeffernüsse is more closely associated with Christmas. The biscuit has been part of European yuletide celebrations since the 1850s.
Pfeffernüsse store well and make an excellent contribution to Christmas or in celebration of the New Year. If time has run out for baking today, mark your calendar in preparation for family and friends on New Year's Eve or anytime between now and then.
Prepare your favorite brew or pour a class of wine and start dunkin'!
Is your mouth watering yet?
Next on the Calendar...National Eggnog Day!