I dug up an old family recipe for Pfeffernussen this week. I've been hearing about these holiday cookies for years now and only recently got hold of the recipe. Except this family recipe was terribly cryptic and handwritten, left quite a bit to the imagination, and made one million cookies. Not exactly an ideal situation for weeknight baking. So, I decided to exercise some creative license and create a hybrid recipe. I combined my family recipe and a trusted one from Martha Stewart which, thankfully, resulted in a reasonable sized batch of deliciously anise-y cookies that were a snap to make. Weeknight Baking Success!
Here's the recipe: (adapted slightly from Great Great Aunt Minnie and Martha Stewart)
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
3/4 teaspoon anise extract/flavor
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put powdered sugar into a brown bag.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, spices, and baking soda. Set aside.
Place butter, brown sugar, and molasses in bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat until light and fluffy -- 3 minutes or so. Beat in egg and anise. With mixer on low, add flour mixture; beat until just combined.
On a clean surface roll dough into logs--circumference should be about the size of a quarter. Roll into balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes until golden and firm. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Working in batches, place cookies into bag of sugar and shake until well coated. Allow to cool completely on wire rack. Store in airtight container.