Peppernuts - pfeffernüssen

, from Issue #27.
Photography by Nick Tresidder.
Peppernuts - pfeffernüssen


100 grams butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons well flavoured honey
1 egg
2 1⁄2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Brandy glaze
1⁄2 cup icing sugar, sifted
2-3 teaspoons brandy or lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper or teflon sheets.

Beat the butter and brown sugar until light and creamy. Beat in the honey and egg with a spoonful of the flour until well mixed.

Sift the remaining flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, cloves, pepper and nutmeg together and gently mix into the butter mixture.

Tip onto a large piece of plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Wrap well and chill until firm.

To cook: Pinch off tablespoons of dough and roll into large marble- sized balls. Place on the baking sheets about 2 cm apart and refrigerate until firm. Do not flatten the biscuits.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden, rotating the tray halfway through for even browning. The biscuits will crack on top and look like little loaves of sourdough bread. Transfer the biscuits to a rack and cool completely.

Glaze: Combine the icing sugar and brandy to make a thick, smooth glaze.

To finish: Holding each biscuit upside down with your finger tips, dip the tops in the glaze, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Place back on the cooling rack to set. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 36

Cook's note: Peppernuts are traditional Central European Christmas cookies. 'Pfeffer' means 'pepper' and the word 'Pfefferlander' refers to countries of the East, from which many of the spices used in the recipe - cinnamon, cardamon and cloves - originated. There are numerous versions, some of which also contain nuts.