Pebernødder – Danish Pepper Nuts

This is my grandmother's written version of this recipe. It is undoubtedly different than what she actually made, but is a close start. My great grandmother also made pebernødder, and this version is likely an adaptation of that. I have checked a number of Danish cookbooks and only the oldest of them use corn syrup and cognac. The newer books do not mention heating the liquid mixture or letting it stand for a day or two. I believe both of these are essential to make these a spicy cookie and not just a crunchy treat.

1 cup sugar
5 Tbsp water
2 1/2 Tbsp dark corn syrup
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup butter
3 Tbsp cognac
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3-4 cups of flour

Heat the sugar, water, corn syrup and spices but do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in the butter until melted. Add the cognac.Mix the flour and baking soda together, then add slowly to the liquid.

I stop adding flour as soon as the dough quits being sticky. It will resemble play-dough when you are done. Do not over mix or the dough will get tough.

Let stand in a covered dish for 1-2 days at room temperature.

Roll into dime sized cylinders, cut about 1/4 inch thick and spread on a cookie sheet. They will puff up some so do not crowd them. Uniform size is important.

Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes.

The cookies shrink a little and get crunchy as they cool so don't overcook them.

The corn syrup isn't critical. You can use a little brown sugar and water in its place. I rarely have cognac in the house so I'll add a bit of brandy. Leave it out entirely if you wish, but I think it adds to the flavor. Spices are always candidates for experimenting. I usually replace the cinnamon with black ground pepper and leave the ginger out. Taking the cloves out will make for a lighter colored cookie.