Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Pink peppercorn pfeffernusse

For the second time in a week I chanced upon the wolf man on the way home. He seems to just appear on the horizon; long silvery hair, lupine scowl and (seriously) a wolf-embroidered fleece hanging off his bony shoulders. If that wasn't enough, he has TWO ACTUAL WOLVES tethered to his hands, albeit by unnervingly flimsy leashes. It's startling to witness; but has little to do with festive baking. I digress.

It’s Sinterklaas eve on 5th December. Traditionally, children in Germany, Holland and Belgium leave shoes by the fireplace before bedtime; come the morning it’s hoped that Saint Nicholas will have filled them with treats – Pfeffernusse being a favourite. It feels a bit keen to be making Christmas biscuits at the end of November, but these really benefit from being left in a tin for a couple of weeks so that the spice flavours develop.

Pink peppercorn pfeffernusse
Makes 20

For the biscuits
2 Eggs
230g Light muscovado sugar
250g Plain flour
Zest and juice of 2 satsumas
1tsp Ground cinnamon
1/2tsp Ground mace
1/2tsp Ground cloves
1/3 Freshly grated tonka bean
1tsp Finely chopped pink peppercorns
1tsp Freshly ground black pepper
30g Ground almonds
A pinch of salt

For the sugar coating
2 Egg whites

250g Icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2. Whisk the eggs, sugar and Satsuma juice together until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in the zest, spices, pepper, salt and almonds before gradually sifting in the flour, mixing well and shaping into a ball of dough. Knead for about five minutes, then roll into 3cm balls and arrange on a greaseproof lined baking sheet (allowing a fair bit of space around each so that they don’t stick together). Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, turn the oven off and transfer biscuits onto a cooling rack. Whisk the egg whites and icing sugar together, dip each biscuit into the glaze and place back on the greaseproof lined tray. Put the tray back into the cooling oven for about half an hour.

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