Monday, December 08, 2014

Roxanne Snopek: The Beauty of Simplicity

Last Christmas I decided to bake a traditional Mennonite treat that I grew up with: Peppernuts. Basically, they are tiny gingersnaps, about the size of hazelnuts, and yes, there’s pepper in them. While we kids raced around, being noisy and rambunctious, the old folks sat around cracking actual nuts, gossiping and dipping these little gems in their coffee.

I didn’t touch them when I was little and honestly, they don’t exactly sell themselves. No chocolate, no cream cheese, no red or green icing, no candy canes or silver balls or anything. So why do I love them now?

Let me just say: cardamom. When have you last smelled cardamom? Oh, the sweet, biting lemony goodness. How about the zinging heat of ginger, the depth of cloves and cinnamon and that jack-of-all-spices, allspice? And I adore the crunch, that mouth-feel that goes from crisp to chewy, with a big burst of sweet heat at the finish.

Anyway, Mennonites being generally suspicious of things with unnecessary foo-fa-rah, these cookies fit the bill but like a lot of things in life, it took me years to appreciate them.

If you need a break this season and want something that doesn’t require napkins or forks or an occasion, try these simple treats and let yourself be taken back to a simpler time.

The characters in my two Christmas stories find themselves celebrating in places they didn’t expect, under circumstances that they wouldn’t have chosen. Simplicity is forced upon them, making them slow down and of course, they resist it but in the end it’s exactly what they needed!

Merry Christmas!  Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of A SWEET MONTANA CHRISTMAS and also SAVING THE SHERIFF!

Roxanne’s Favorite Peppernuts
Wet Ingredients                              
1½ c      butter                                                  
1 c         white sugar                                       
1 c         brown sugar                                      
½ c        corn syrup                                          
½ c        dark molasses                                  
1/3 c      sour milk                                                                             

Dry Ingredients
4 tsp      baking powder 
1 tsp      baking soda       
½ tsp     salt                        
1½ tsp   cardamom
1 tsp      allspice
1 tsp      cloves  
1½ tsp   fresh-ground pepper
1 tsp      ginger  
1½ tsp   cinnamon           
7 c         flour

Cream together butter and sugars.
Add syrup, molasses and sour milk. (or plain yogurt)
In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together.
Gradually add dry mixture to wet ingredients mixture.
Roll into finger-width ropes (or “snakes,” if you’ve got kids helping.)
Cut into ½-inch hazelnut-size pieces.
Bake on a lightly greased baking sheet at 350° for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Yield: Full recipe makes approximately 24 dozen peppernuts, on four large cookie sheets.

*** Roxanne's winner is Dstoutholcomb! Please email with your mailing details!***


erin said...

lol... that... looks... different!! Thanks for sharing!

dstoutholcomb said...

Simplicity is the type of Christmas I grew up with, too!


Mary Preston said...

Thank you for the recipe. I love that they are bite sized too.

Laurie G said...

I've never tried or heard of peppernuts. Hmmm.

We like to go cross country skiing after Christmas. We play a lot of board games and card games like Sheepshead.

Carol L. said...

Thanks for your post and the recipe. Look like little morsels of deliciousneess. :) Wishing you a Merry Chtistmaas. Nice cover.
Carol L
Luccky4750 (at) aol (dot) com