Now, as an outsider, when you read the title of this post I can only imagine what you must be thinking. However, it is again about tradition and food, two of my favorite things. You see since as long as I can remember peppernuts have been a part of my life. They bring back memories of some of the most simple and pleasurable seasons of my childhood. For you to understand, first you must have an idea what they are; a cookie. Yes, a cookie. But not just any cookie. They are a very small, very hard, very gingery type of cookie. That may not sound so special, but to me it is very special.
Peppernuts have a very distinct smell, a spicy, ginger snap odor that when heated, fills the house and instantly screams Christmas. The only time we have peppernuts is Christmas time, and we have a lot of them. Mom, or now Tra will make a 10 pound log of peppernut dough, wrap it in Saran wrap, and store it in the fridge. Then, when the urge strikes there will be a rolling party. The rolling is the forming of the peppernut cookie, and it almost always involves a group of kids, gathered around the kitchen taking quarter size pieces of the dough into their thoroughly washed hands, and then rolling them in their palms until they form a perfect circle. Then the ball is placed on a cookie sheet, evenly ( not so much) spaced and ready for cooking. Once placed in the oven, magic happens. The cookies come out dark brown and shaped like a teeny dome, rock hard and perfect.
“A rock hard cookie?” I hear you screaming. But that is the beauty of the peppernut. It is not meant just to plop in your mouth, although that is quite enjoyable that way, but it is meant to be dunked. It is an activity food, like the fondue of cookies.
This is where the memories come in. I remember, as a child, the kitchen full of baking goodies, a fresh batch of peppernuts, and the four of us kids sitting around the table dunking our peppernuts in warm milk.I remember many times, me with my warm milk, grandpa or my dad with his coffee and cream ( enough cream sometimes that it looked like milk) sitting together at the table dunking peppernuts. There is something so perfect about the mixed aroma of peppernuts and coffee. I remember, year after year being taught the proper way to dunk and then eat a peppernut, even though by age 10 I considered myself an expert. Yet I never interjected, I just sat and watched the same presentation I had seen the year or week before, enjoying every minute of it.
Now you can’t just throw them in the milk, there is a definite skill involved. You see the dome shape is made for dunking. the flat part of the cookie should be on the top of your dunking medium of choice, and you should let it sit there until it just about looses its buoyancy, and slowly began to sink. At that exact moment, you save it from the grasp of the certain death, and gently slide your spoon under the treat. IF you wait just a second too long, the dome will sink, and recovery of an intact cookie is as rare as the Godfrey home with no kids in it. Unless, of course you have years of training and skills, much like myself. More often than not, the sunk cookie will disintegrate, leaving chunks of mush in your beverage, which is pleasant for no one. But if you do it right, then from the cup, to your mouth, memories in cookie form.
So there is very little that makes me happier than coming home from work and seeing my family gathered around the kitchen counter rolling peppernuts as fast as their little hands can move. I become instantly excited that soon I will be sitting at the table, dunking peppernuts and explaining for the dozenth time the essence of the perfect dunk to anyone who will listen, and even to those that won’t. Although I am sure they think they are experts.
This entry was posted on December 26, 2009 by Glenn G. It was filed under Holidays, Traditions, Uncategorized and was tagged with christmas, cookies, dunking cookies, german cookies, ginger cookies, peppernuts, Traditions.