Tuesday, January 6, 2015

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas...

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(This post edited 1/12/15 to clarify recipe and give additional info about Peppernuts.)

Today is Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, and this is the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas. A lot of people have had their Christmas decorations packed away for at least a week now, but for us, January 6th is the "official" day for them to come down. To be honest, the job likely won't get finished all in one day because it happens to be a Tuesday, and some of our regular Tuesday activities start up today. Also, this is the last full day of my parents' visit with us, so I don't want to spend the whole day cleaning! On top of all of that, it is snowing (finally!), so maybe we will take some time to look after one of the "play in the snow" suggestions on our Twelve Days activity list.

As you can see, many of the items on the list were food related. I've previously shared some of those recipes, but there are a couple that I haven't, and that's what today's update is for!

If I can find all the ingredients I need without an extra trip to the store, I will make King Cake today. (See my King Cake recipe post from last year.) I have a feeling I don't have everything I need, but lucky for me, this yummy dessert is also associated with Mardi Gras, so I can make it then.

Most of the meals and treats we especially wanted during the Twelve Days are not specific for the holidays - we chose them because they are favorites of ours for various reasons, and because my mom was here to help me make some of them. One dish that is specifically for New Years (although it's good any time!) is New Years Cookies, and yes, we enjoyed them again this year. On New Years Day, of course! (See my New Years Cookies recipe post from last year.)

 We enjoyed a couple of brunches with the whole family, and two much-loved dishes were served - Maple Bacon Monkey Bread on one occasion (See my Maple Bacon Monkey Bread recipe post), and Waffles and Awesome Sauce on another. (See my Waffles and Awesome Sauce recipe post.)

maple bacon monkey bread recipe

Waffles and Awesome Sauce

We baked a lot of cookies. A LOT. One favorite is Cookies With a Kick. (I shared my recipe as part of a Virtual Cookie Exchange a couple years ago - see that recipe HERE.) These ginger molasses cookies have a little heat added in the form of cayenne pepper, so be prepared! But oh, they are good! Especially with a hot cup of coffee.

The recipe I'm sharing here today is for another cookie that is a favorite at Christmas time - Peppernuts. There are a couple different versions of this cookie, but this recipe from my Aunt Linda remains our favorite. These are also perfect for enjoying on a coffee break!

Peppernuts are the little cookies in the clear bucket.

A reader contacted me to ask why there is no pepper in the recipe for peppernuts, which is a valid question. Although there are no nuts in the recipe either, but no one asked about that. Anyway, our family recipe has never included pepper, and after doing a little research, it seems that just as many peppernut recipes include pepper as leave it out. (If you want to add it, try 1/4 tsp of black pepper.) Our family recipe is actually quite "plain" compared to some that include spices.

Peppernuts are associated with the Christmas holidays in Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, and among Ethnic Mennonites in North America (that would be my family heritage). It appears that the recipe we use is one that is very close to a similar cookie called "Kruidnoten" that is often confused with Peppernuts. Kruidnoten means "spice nuts" and use generally the same ingredients as are used for the Dutch cookie known as "speculoos" (they are larger and stamped with an image - in North America we often find them stamped with a windmill image). All three cookies have been part of St Nicholas Day traditions in Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium; and part of Christmas and Yuletide in Germany.
3/4 cup margarine or butter
1-1/2 cups white sugar
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
2 tbsp water (if needed to make the dough manageable)
2 tbsp corn syrup
5 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugars together; add eggs and syrup, then mix in dry ingredients to make a stiff dough. Roll the dough into long ropes about an inch thick. Freeze on cookie sheets until firm. Slice each rope into small coin-sized rounds (dime sized if you're patient, silver dollar sized if you're not). Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 350* until set and starting to brown. Ours took about 10 minutes or so, but it will depend on the size of your cookies. Allow to cool for a minute before removing. Store these crunchy little cookies in tins.

(Find the link up here: Our Family's Twelve Days of Christmas)
12 Days of Christmas

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