Find A Hobby- How about Baking?

Baking is enjoyable for many and included in holiday traditions around the world. A specialty in our household is “Pfeffernusse”. Sounds like I sneezed on my screen, I know, but stay with me here. These tiny cookie creations have become a Christmas tradition. They are famous- well at least in my small circle of friends, family and acquaintances. “Pfeffernusse” pronounced “Fef-er-noos”, is a traditional German cookie. The translation is “pepper nuts”, which is a pretty accurate description for this tasty treat.

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After eating Pfeffernusse as a child, baked by our neighbors, I spent years searching for a similar recipe. There is a lot of variation in outcomes and the ones available for purchase taste nothing like what I had hoped. Almost 15 years later, my uncle and his lady-friend offered me this recipe with a taste test that matched the spicy, crunchy, tiny nut-like cookies I had been craving.

They are delicious and useful morsels of spicy goodness. I have used them to repay favors. I’ve even used them as bribes. The goodness doesn’t end with the holiday season either. I have been known to freeze them and give them as birthday gifts later in the year.

They not only taste great, but they’re convenient too. -Great for sticking in a lunch, or a purse, saddle bag or even a pocket. Fun for throwing in the air and trying to catch, just don’t chip a tooth! They look plain, even mistaken for puppy treats, but if you try one, you are likely to become addicted.

Although they look plain, the preparing and baking process is complex. Worth it, but not easy. The prep work includes cooking the wet ingredients and letting them cool overnight.

I normally recruit my mom to help. She gets paid in cookies.

The mixing of the wet along with the combination of 7 spices and 12 (plus) cups of flour isn’t for the weak -of arm, mind or spoon. After rolling into ropes and cutting into small dime – nickel size bits and placing them on a cookie sheet, you wait approx. 20 minutes for them to bake.

Fresh, out of the oven, Pfeffernusse are a special treat. They are only soft while they are still warm. This becomes an exclusive item for those with a hand in the baking process. The hardening and cooling process happen shortly after removing them from the cookie sheet. Once cool, they should be stored in air tight containers and will last for weeks- even months or longer in the freezer.

As curious bakers, my mom and I actually tallied up how many cookies the recipe produces. It depends on the size of each but it is over 1000! That sounds like a lot, but once you start eating them by the handfuls, you’ll be glad there is an abundance.

You can’t go wrong with a hobby that incorporates great food and good company. Grab a friend or family member, or go it alone and share the bounty later. Baking any time of year is a wonderful hobby.

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