We had a later than usual Pepper Nuts session here at the Krause-Wannamaker house today. We were in Florida for Christmas proper this year, and, because of changes on the Krause side of things at Thanksgiving and less than great planning on our part here before our southern trip, we ended up actually making my family’s classic Christmas cookie after Christmas. Oh well.
Still, a good time was had by one and all. Will and Annette definitely did as much as I did this year with the rolling and cutting– good team work, and we all enjoyed remembering relatives from Christmases of the recent and distant past. Most of this batch will be accompanying us to Iowa in the coming days. In any event, here’s the annual reprinting/reposting of the recipe, as told to me by my Grandma Krause (and re-written by me):
Grandma Krause’s Pepper Nuts
1 cup dark karo syrup
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup butter, softened (or margarine or crisco or, in the old days, lard)
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup hot water
2 tsps baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp anise oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
7 cups (or so) flour
1.In your trusty KitchenAid standing mixer mix together the syrup, molasses, butter, sugar and hot water until well combined. If you lack a standing mixer, you can do this with a large bowl and a hand mixer.
2. Add everything else but the flour and continue mixing until combined.
3. Start adding the flour, about a cup at a time, mixing each time until the flour is well incorporated. If you have a trusty KitchenAid standing mixer, lucky you! You can keep mixing this until all seven cups of flour are combined. I shifted from the regular mixing paddle to the bread hook attachment after the fifth cup of flour.
If you don’t have a standing mixer (unlucky you!), you’ll probably have to give up on the hand mixer after the fourth or fifth cup of flour and knead the rest of the flour in as you might with the making of bread or pizza dough.
Either way, you may have to add a little more or a little less flour to get a dough that is moist but not sticky.
4. Take about a handful of the finished dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface in long snakes that are about the width of your pinky. Lay these out on a cookie sheet. You can create different layers of the dough snakes by separating them with parchment paper or plastic sheeting.
5. Chill these dough snakes. Grandma Krause’s recipe said to chill “overnight or for at least a couple of hours.” I have done this before by putting them in the freezer or outside in a place like Wisconsin or Michigan or Iowa (which is as cold as the freezer, of course) for an hour or so, though in the movie, I left them out overnight with no adverse effect. They do need to be chilled and even a bit dried out.
6. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350-375 degrees. (It kind of depends on your oven, but while Grandma Krause said 350, I think 375 is probably more accurate). Take each snake and cut them into tiny bite-sized pieces of dough. Put the little dough pieces onto a cookie sheet, being sure to spread them out so they don’t touch either. The cookies will expand slightly in size.
7. Bake about 9 or 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool them on a clean counter or a clean cookie sheet and store them in a sealed container. Serve them in little bowls as if they were nuts. Makes a pailful.