These little things are amazingly tasty. They’re a bit time consuming (what with all the resting in the fridge), but it’s worth doing all the steps (including the glaze) as the taste is so complex and rich.
While they have no butter or oil, they’re mostly sugar, so diabetics beware!
450g plain flour
50g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp each ground nutmeg, ground cloves, ground allspice, ground cardamom
(I used my spices from the Indian grocer and they’re MUCH stronger/more powerful than the supermarket stuff)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2tbsp very finely chopped glace citron (cedro)
2 eggs
220g brown sugar
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1tsp instant espresso coffee dissolved in 2tbsp boiling water
60ml brandy
1 egg white
70g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting
NB: combine 1tsp aniseed with the icing sugar and leave in a jar for a day, then sift icing sugar to remove aniseed)
1. Sift flour, almonds, baking powder, pepper, salt and spices into a bowl, then stir in citron.
2. using an electric mixer, beat eggs and brown sugar until thick and pale. Add lemon rind and coffee mixture and stir to combine, then stir in flour mixture to form a stiff dough.
(my eggs were very small, so I added some extra water to get to the dough stage)
Divide dough into quarters, then roll each quarter into a 2.5cm diameter cylinder shape, wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
3. Using a sharp knife, cut logs into 1cm thick slices and place on greased oven trays, then leave biscuits for 8 hours or overnight.
4. Turn biscuits over on trays and brush moist undersides lightly with a little brandy, then place, brandy side up, on same trays and bake immediately at 160*C for 20 minutes or until golden, then transfer to wire racks to cool.
5. For glaze, combine egg white and icing sugar in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Using a pastry brush, brush top and sides of biscuits with a little glaze, adding a little warm water if glaze becomes too thick. Place biscuits on a wire rack until almost set, then dust generously in icing sugar to coat all over. Store biscuits in an airtight container for 1 day before eating, to allow flavours to develop and for biscuits to soften. Biscuits will keep up to 2 weeks.
Things you can do with pfeffernüsse:

  • Stuff halved and stoned nectarines or peaches with a mixture of crushed pfeffernüsse, soft butter, chopped crystalised ginger and an egg yolk, then bake or grill until golden.
  • Mulled wine makes an excellent accompaniment for pfeffernüsse – combine red wine, brandy, cinnamon stick, cloves and a wide strip each of orange and lemon rind in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, then strain and serve immediately.
  • Coarsely crush pfeffernüsse, then scatter over cinnamon or chocolate icecream and top with roasted almonds.

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