White pepper spiced biscuits

Weisse Pfeffernüsse

White pepper spiced biscuits

White pepper spiced biscuits

Serves Makes 40
DifficultyNot too tricky
Recipe From

Advent

By Anja Dunk
Tap For Method

Ingredients

  • 200 g (1½ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 180 g (1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon Hirschhornsalz , (see tip)
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • ICING
  • 80 g (generous ½ cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar , sifted
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Tap For Method
Recipe From

Advent

By Anja Dunk
Tap For Ingredients

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5 and line two large baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, spices and salt into a mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until evenly combined.
  3. In a small glass, mix the Hirschhornsalz with the rum, stirring until it has dissolved. Add this to the flour mixture, followed by the eggs. Stir together with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms.
  4. Wet your hands and pinch off small, teaspoon-sized pieces of dough, roll into little balls and place 3cm/1¼in apart on the lined sheets. Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes until domed and firm but not browned.
  5. While the biscuits are baking, make the icing by mixing the icing sugar, water and lemon juice together in a bowl until a smooth paste forms.
  6. Allow the biscuits to cool on the sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
  7. Ice while still warm by brushing the glaze on the domed tops with a pastry brush. Allow to cool completely – I tend to leave mine on the wire rack for an hour, just to ensure the icing has also set hard. Stored in an airtight container, these keep well for 4 weeks or more.

Tips

Hirschhornsalz (Baker’s ammonia, or ammonium carbonate, in English) is a traditional raising agent used throughout Germany and Scandinavia for Christmas cookies. Many moons ago Hirschhornsalz was made out of ground deer antlers, hooves and horns, but these days it’s chemically produced. Often used in butterless biscuit dough, Hirschhornsalz gives cookies a unique tight-knit, crunchy texture – best described as a cross between a sponge cake and cinder toffee. It is a key ingredient in such biscuits as Pfeffernüsse and Springerle. While Hirschhornsalz is readily available to buy in little sachets all over Germany come Advent time, it is harder to get hold of elsewhere and you may need to order it online. I have known people to substitute Hirschhornsalz with an equal mixture of baking powder and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), but personally I think it’s worth seeking out and buying online should you not be able to find it in a local store.

Recipe From

Advent

By Anja Dunk