Cardamom, clove, anise, and cinnamon make these lightly powdered traditional German/Dutch Christmas cookies (‘peppernuts’) a delightful respite from the season’s overly sweet sugar cookies. Since I have quadrupled the spices, they are somewhat intense. Feel free to lighten up on them if you want a gentler flavor. I keep freshly ground Ceylon cinnamon and clove around, but freshly ground the anise seed, cardamom seed, and a peppercorn tricolor blend the first time I made them. Second time around, I used already ground white pepper. Both batches were fantastic; play with the spices as your cupboard sees fit. Adapted from Down to Earth’s holiday cookie section. They require chill time (an hour or overnight) to make it easy to form little balls that won’t flatten while baking.
The lovely texture of these cookies improves with time — a light crunch as you bite in, then a soft pillow of spice in the middle. Air them out for a while after completely cooled, then store in a tin. Make more than you ‘need’ (like anyone needs cookies) and when you open that second tin the flavor and texture will be even better.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons anise
3 1/2 teaspoons Ceylon cinnamon
4 teaspoons each cardamom and clove
3 1/4 teaspoons white pepper
1/2 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup cane sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
confectioner’s sugar for coating
1. In smaller of two bowls, combine all dry ingredients except the sugar.
2. In larger bowl, use hand mixer to fluff together vegan butter and sugar.
3. Add almond milk, molasses, canola oil and vanilla. The mixture will not be perfectly smooth as vegan butter behaves slightly differently than dairy butter.
4. In three batches, mix in dry ingredients, switching to a wooden spoon on last batch.
5. Form dough into a log, wrap in plastic and chill for an hour or more.
6. Preheat oven to 350 F. Make little balls about an inch each (about 40).
7. Bake on cookie sheets sprayed with coconut oil, 11-12 minutes or till lightly browned.
8. Handle carefully at first as they are tender right out of the oven; After a minute or so, remove with spatula and set out on a rack.
9. Dip pfeffernusse while still warm into a bowl of confectioner’s sugar, turning gently to coat. Do this a second time, after all of them are coated, if you like.