Black Pfeffernüsse

At least, I’m guessing that’s what she intended.

Yeah, it looks like peppermints, but it’s not. I’ve never heard of black peppermints, and I’ve definitely never heard of any variety of peppermint that includes ten cups of flour. But looking at the ingredients and that nearly indecipherable gibberish underneath them, this could easily be a recipe for pfeffernüsse, or “pepper nuts.” (While some versions do contain ground nuts, it’s not essential for the cookie to carry this name.)

So that’s what she wrote: “Peppernuts.” Of course, black pfeffernüsse would ordinarily have black pepper, so I’m guessing this is a recipe fragment. Not to worry, I filled in the blanks.

Here’s a version from the December 20, 1902 edition of the Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette:


This recipe for pfeffernusse, which is a German Christmas, as good as it is unpronounceable, is published in the December number of What to Eat: One pound of sifted flour, four eggs, three ounces of citron, grated rind of one lemon, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and one teaspoonful of baking powder. Beat the eggs together, add sugar and spices, stirring constantly. Mix the baking powder with the flour, and knead this into the mixture upon a board. From into little oval cakes and bake in buttered tins ina slow oven. After taking from the tins brush with a syrup made of granulated sugar and water boiled untilit threads. If put in a stone crock and kept in a cool place these cakes will keep a long time.

One sad update: my computer is currently not feeling well (I’m updating this from the business center of my apartment building, where some greasy dude eyeballing me is about to meet my fists, Cobra Commander and Destro). I’m going to go back and work on it some more, but updates might be light (like today’s, I mean) until I can get it back in working order.

From the box of A.D. from Lutz, Florida, by way of Pennsylvania in the 1940s, and originating in Ohio in the 1920s.

Black Peppermints

[Any guesses as to what the German means here?]

2-1/2 lbs. flour (or about 10 cups)
1-1/4 lbs. New Orleans molasses (Brer Rabbit)
3/4 lb. sugar (or about 1-1/2 cup, big cup)
1/4 lb. lard
1/4 lb. butter
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon soda
1 tsp. [ground] cloves and 1 [tsp.] cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg

Black Pfeffernüsse method (provided by Yesterdish)

To the above ingredients, add:
1 Tbsp. finely ground black pepper
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cardamom
2-1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, for coating

I’d also double the amounts of clove, nutmeg and cinnamon.

  1. Combine spices, flour, and baking soda. Whisk together and set aside.
  2. Cook molasses, sugar, lard, butter in saucepan over medium heat, stirring until it forms a caramel-like mixture. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Stir eggs into molasses mixture. Refrigerate for at least four hours. The dough will be very stiff.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll the dough into balls between 3/4″ and 1″ in diameter. Place on greased baking sheets at least an inch apart.
  5. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Once cool, roll in confectioner’s sugar.
  6. Ideally, age cookies for a day or two in a sealed container before eating.

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