Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sugar and Spice - Oooh - so nice!

Something about having snow on the ground sends me into a baking frenzy, even when it's melting away and meandering in rivulets down the gutters. The result seems to always be at least one type of cookie scenting my home and decorating my counters. I wanted a spice cookie today, but something a little more interesting then your typical spice wafer. Since I've watched far too much Nigella lately, I wanted to play a tribute to my British roots by transforming this classically German cookie. These flavor packed nibbles have an unexpected punch from exotic cardamom (a nod to Britain's Indian colonies that have permeated the flavors of their national cuisine), dark rum to recognize the U.K.'s influence in the Carribean and a sweet note provided by buttery English toffee bits. The perfect combo of sugar and spice.

English Toffee Pfeffernüse

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsulphered molasses
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground green cardamom
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tsp warm dark rum
1/2 tsp almond extract
zest of one lime
zest of one orange
1/2 cup Heath Bar bits

Cream butter and brown sugar together. Beat in egg and molasses. Sift together flour and spices. Add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Dissolve baking soda in rum and add along with extract and zest. After combined, mix in the remainder of the flour mixture, then stir in toffee bits. Put in the freezer for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spoon dough in 3/4 inch balls onto greased, parchment lined baking sheets - about 1 inch apart. Bake 12-14 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through, until slightly darkened on the edges.

Food Find: Chemex 6 cup Coffee Maker

I have to admit, I am not a huge coffee fan. That is to say, I love the smell of it so much that the taste tends to disappoint me. I do have fond memories of flavored coffees that my mother used to brew by the cup in a plastic manual drip placed over a mug. It was the best tasting coffee I had ever had. So I finally convinced myself it would be worth it to invest in a manual drip. Now, you can certainly find the plastic version for a few bucks, but I love this Chemex carafe because it doubles as beautiful, classic counter art (One even graces Monica's kitchen in Friends).

The unbleached Chemex filters also cut out the bitterness in the coffee, brewing a smooth yet rich cup every time. The perfect beverage to accompany my pfeffernüse!

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