Posts Tagged With: Cookie

357/365: National Pfeffernuesse Day

Feeling tongue tied today? You just might, after trying to pronounce today’s food holiday. December 23 is National Pfeffernuesse Day!

Pfeffernuesse is a small, round cookie with ground nuts and spices that is popular during the holidays in Germany, Denmark, and The Netherlands. The dough is rolled into balls and is initially hard, leading many to dunk the cookies in coffee or milk, similar to a biscotti. Over time, they soften. The name translates to “pepper nuts” in English, though these cookies do not always contain nuts. A National Pfeffernuesse Day is observed by many European countries on the same date.

In Dutch folklore, Pfeffernuesse is closely associated with the Feast of Sinterklaas (December 5 in The Netherlands, December 6 in Germany and Belgium). Children receive gifts (or lumps of coal, depending on whether they’ve been precious little saints all year, or assholes) from St. Nicholas on this day. The cookie has been a part of these European yuletide celebrations since the 1850s.

Pfeffernuesse are one of those cookies you’d recognize if you saw it. Sure enough, they’ve been a part of many a holiday cookie tray over the years. I couldn’t find them in the grocery store, so I looked up several recipes online – the basic ingredients are the same, but the exact spices vary – and ended up combining elements from a couple of different recipes to create my own. Here it is:


    • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup molasses
    • 1 egg
    • powdered sugar, for rolling baked cookies in


  1. In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, salt, baking soda, pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves, set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed cream butter, sugar, and molasses until fluffy. Beat in egg. On low speed gradually add flour mixture and beat just until blended. Cover and chill dough for at least 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease baking sheets. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch sized balls. Place balls two inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes.
  4. When cookies are cool enough to handle, but still warm roll in powdered sugar. Transfer cookies to cooling racks to cool completely.

The verdict? These were different from any other type of cookie I’ve ever had. They’re warm and spicy, with just the subtlest hint of pepper. The color and consistency – and flavor, even – reminds me somewhat of gingerbread. They were pretty good!

And I might also point out, these represent the final baking challenge of the year. There is nothing else left to bake, and actually, only 1 more thing left to cook. Wow!

National Pfeffernuesse Day

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342/365: National Chocolate Brownie Day

If you can’t decide between a cookie or a slice of cake today, why not settle for a cross between the two? December 8 is National Chocolate Brownie Day!

Now, we’ve already celebrated blonde brownies and cream cheese brownies and butterscotch brownies. I was surprised we hadn’t yet paid homage to the most popular of all brownies, chocolate. But it turns out we did, kind of. Tara made chocolate brownies for National Bittersweet Chocolate Day back in January. So, we have definitely been down this path before, and talked about the history of the brownie. It was created at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago and originally featured an apricot glaze and walnuts; this version is still sold there to this day. But there are some enduring myths about how brownies came about, legends that refuse to die. According to various sources, brownies:

  • Were the result of a chef accidentally adding melted chocolate to biscuit dough;
  • Were invented when a cook forgot to add flour to the batter;
  • Were the creation of a housewife who did not have baking powder but decided to serve the flattened cakes to her guests anyway.

Like the Loch Ness Monster, these are nothing but tall tales. Although…

I’ll let you be the judge of that.

For our challenge, we baked a batch of chocolate brownies!  had every intention of baking a batch of chocolate brownies, but were so busy with cleaning and cooking and football watching it was easier just to run to the store and grab a gourmet chocolate brownie from the bakery. Plus that way, we were limited to 1/2 a brownie each, instead of who-knows-how-many we would have been tempted to eat. So, good choice! (It was amazing, too).

National Chocolate Brownie Day

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216/365: National Chocolate Chip Day

You’re like a chip off the old block if you appreciate today’s food holiday. August 4 is National Chocolate Chip Day!

At least, I think it is. Don’t you just love discrepancy? I originally had today listed as National Lasagna Day, and while a few websites concur, most showed that on July 29, so we celebrated it then. Which left the “real” food holiday for August 4…umm, a bit of a mystery. Occasionally, we’ll come across a day where consensus is lacking, or there just isn’t a lot of information. Today is like that. But several sources list it as National Chocolate Chip Day, which is good enough for me! (Further confusing matters: May 15 is/was either National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day or National Chocolate Chip Day, depending on whom you believe). Sheesh. Can you pass the Excedrin?20130804_094949

I discussed how chocolate chips were invented in my previous post in May, so we won’t rehash that. The fact is, I’m loathe to rehash anything we have to celebrate twice, but when it comes to chocolate chips, it’s hard to think of making anything else with them but cookies. Still, a quick online search netted some rather unusual chocolate chip recipes. The non-adventurous need not apply.

20130804_100002We were fresh out of crickets, so to celebrate, we decided to make banana bread with chocolate chips. Since Tara did all the work, I’ll let her talk about the recipe…and also her super cool new mixer!

Hi there!  My recipe is there on the left.

As you can tell from all the splatters, this page sees a lot of use.  The recipe is from a Fanny Farmer cookbook that was given to me on my 18th birthday.  The cover is long gone, one corner is chewed up from one of my dogs, there are lots of scrap pieces of paper used for bookmarks, along with quite a few bent corners.

My super cool mixer was purchased yesterday at the local Value Village thrift store.  We had a few items to donate and decided to take a quick look inside.  I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw it and wide-eyedly asked Mark if I should get it.  A little bit of hopeful expectation in my tone of voice.  He said absolutely and suggested I plug it in to make sure it worked.  It did…and does wonderfully.  It’s a Sunbeam Deluxe Mixmaster Mixer, circa 1975, and a steal at $24.99.  I have a feeling this is going to be a staple in our cooking from now on.

National Chocolate Chip Day

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190/365: National Sugar Cookie Day

Is today’s food holiday sweet? You’d butter believe it! July 9 is National Sugar Cookie Day.

While chocolate chip cookies may be more popular, sugar cookies have a long and rich history dating back hundreds of years. Cookies themselves are believed to have originated from small batter cakes that Persian bakers used to test the temperature of their ovens around the 7th century before committing to baking an entire cake. Rather than throw these often hardened scraps away, they were sold as miniature cakes, and quickly caught on in popularity. Because texting hadn’t been invented yet, it would take nearly 1000 years for word of these treats to spread to Europe. “Sugar cookies” is a boring name considering some of the early monikers for this cookie, which included jumbles, crybabies, plunkets, gemmels, gimblettes, and cimbellines. The name may have varied, but the main ingredient remained the same: chocolate.

Kidding. The main ingredient in a sugar cookie is sugar.

Depending on how fine the granules are, sugar cookies can be either thin and crispy, or plump and chewy. They are one of the simplest cookies to make and, despite a lack of fancy ingredients, one of the tastiest…at least in my opinion.

We picked up some sugar cookies with frosting. That’s right. We like to kick things up a notch whenever possible!

National Sugar Cookie Day

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163/365: National Peanut Butter Cookie Day

You might find yourself in a sticky situation if you celebrate today’s food holiday…but you’ll love it! June 12 is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day.

George Washington Carver may have had a confusingly Presidential name, but the agricultural teacher at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute was more interested in peanuts than politics. He advocated them as a replacement crop for cotton, which was being decimated by insects at the time. Carver published a cookbook in 1916 called How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumptionwhich might just win the award for Longest Cookbook Title Ever. The book contained three recipes for peanut cookies, all of which called for crushed or chopped peanuts. It wasn’t until a few years later that peanut butter was listed as an ingredient. Originally, the cookies were formed into balls, but these did not cook properly. Bakers began flattening the dough with forks, leading to the signature criss-cross marks so closely associated with peanut butter cookies. Pillsbury touted the use of a fork to make these waffle-like marks, when their recipe for Peanut Butter Balls was published in 1933. Cooks were instructed to press the cookies using fork tines. Alternative methods called for using a device called a cookie shovel, and then transporting them to the oven using a cookie wheelbarrow. Crumbs could be cleaned up using a cookie rake.

Our peanut butter cookies still contained crosshatch marks even though we didn’t make them from scratch. Instead, we opted for some Nutter Butters, which have the added advantage of being peanut butter cookies shaped like peanuts. Mr. Carver would be impressed.

Nutter Butter

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151/365: National Macaroon Day

Today’s food of honor may not have universally agreed upon ingredients, but the general consensus is that it’s delicious no matter how it’s made. May 31 is National Macaroon Day!

What a fun word to say, by the way. Macaroon. Macaroon. You’d have to be a real buffoon if you didn’t like saying the word macaroon. A macaroon is a light baked confection, either a small cake or soft cookie. In America, macaroons are traditionally made with coconut, but in many countries they are prepared with almonds. Occasionally, other nuts such as pecans, cashews, or hazelnuts are used. Indeed, the first macaroons were created by monks in an Italian monastery during the 9th century, and were essentially almond meringue cookies. The word comes from maccarone, Italian for “paste” – yummy! – and, yes, it’s the same word used to describe macaroni. Macaroons were introduced to France in 1533 by the pastry chefs for Catherine de Medici, the wife of King Henri II. During the French Revolution, a pair of Benedictine nuns, Sisters Marguerite and  Marie-Elisabeth, who were seeking asylum in the town of Nancy paid for their lodging by baking and selling macaroons. They subsequently became known as the “Macaroon Sisters.” As the cookie spread through Europe, people began adding coconut, and in many recipes it completely replaced almonds.

Surprisingly, Tara had never had a macaroon before. I happen to love them, but then again, I’m a big fan of coconut. The cookies were delicious!


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77/365: National Oatmeal Cookie Day

Feeling your oats? Then you’ll like today’s food holiday. March 18 is National Oatmeal Cookie Day!

Oddly, April 30 is also designated as National Oatmeal Cookie Day on some calendars. Turns out oatmeal cookies are honored on both days. We’d rather not celebrate the same food twice, and April 30 is also dedicated to raisins, so oatmeal cookies are on the menu today.

Not very long ago, oats weren’t considered fit for human consumption. They were seen as food for horses. Kilt-wearing, bagpipe-playing, Loch Ness Monster-harboring Scots were the first to incorporate oats into their own diets. In a friendly little bit o’ UK rivalry, the English used to say, “A grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” The Scots fired back,“England is noted for the excellence of her horses; Scotland for the excellence of her men.” This was proven true on the battlefield: when Rome invaded England they had no trouble dispatching the British army, but Scottish soldiers – who were fond of carrying around oatcakes for nourishment – put up a real fight. Lest you think that’s a coincidence, health studies show that a diet consisting of oats lowers cholesterol and contains large amounts of fiber, vitamin E, selenium, copper, manganese, iron, magnesium, and protein. Oats are good for you (though you may set off an airport metal detector if you consume too many pre-flight). Oatcakes were more like a pancake back then, but eventually evolved into cookies in the 19th century. The first known recipe for oatmeal cookies appears in Fannie Farmer’s 1896 Boston Cooking School cookbook.

Raisins are a common ingredient in oatmeal cookies, but Tara uses Craisins instead. Plus white chocolate. She whipped us up a batch this evening, and my mouth was watering while they were still baking in the oven. I love these cookies! Here’s the recipe:

3/4 cup butter flavored shortening
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups uncooked oats (quick or old-fashioned)
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup Craisins
1 cup white chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 F and lightly grease a cookie sheet. Meanwhile, combine shortening, brown sugar, egg, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat until well blended. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix into creamed mixture at low speed just until blended. Stir in Craisins/white chocolate chips. Drop 2 inches apart and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Oatmeal Cookies

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