Saturday, December 11, 2010

Not a Winner, But Still a Good Experience

Every year, the local paper holds a holiday cookie contest. I entered it a couple of years ago and made the finals, but didn't place at all. It was a fun experience and they said that they really enjoyed my entry letter. I'll post that along with the recipe after I talk about the most recent contest. I made the finals again and this time I placed! I didn't win, but they did print my recipe along with a photo in the paper. I chose a recipe that is a bit unique. I've never come across it before. My mom originally got the recipe from our neighbor on the street that I grew up on. This neighbor had the best recipes. She was always reluctant to share them, but my mom always seemed to get them out of her. I hope she doesn't mind that I'm sharing it now. I'm a firm believer in sharing recipes. I love recipes and think they are a wonderful thing to pass on to others. So here is the recipe!

Delicious as it Looks: Chocolate Peppermint Balls

Chocolate Peppermint Balls
(this is not a low-FODMAP recipe)
recipe yield: 24 balls


1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup dry milk powder
½ cup crushed hard peppermint candies (about 20 pieces)
½ cup crushed walnuts
¼ cup crushed hard peppermint candies (about 10 pieces)
¼ cup crushed walnuts


  1. In a medium non-stick saucepan, melt the chocolate chips over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in dry milk powder, the ½ cup crushed peppermints and ½ cup crushed walnuts. Stir until evenly combined.
  2. For the coating, combine the ¼ cup crushed peppermints and ¼ cup crushed walnuts on a plate. With clean hands, roll chocolate mixture into 1-1/2” balls, and then roll in coating. Place on a sheet of waxed paper to cool.

Cook’s note: to crush the peppermints and walnuts, I place them in heavy duty plastic storage bags and pound on them with a meat mallet. It’s a great way to relieve holiday stress.

Two years ago I entered the contest with an old (I mean really old) family recipe. I guess the flavors were a little too old-fashioned for the judges because I didn't even place. I know not everyone like the taste of anise (a black licorice flavor), so that's probably why. They did like my entry letter, however, and that's how I became a finalist. Here is my entry:


Hundreds: The number of years this recipe has been in my family. Thousands: The number of cookies one batch of this recipe makes. Ok, not really. But this recipe has been around for many years and does make a lot of cookies!

With the passing of my grandmother at age 93 last month, I thought I would honor her and my family by sharing our favorite recipe, which happens to be a Christmas cookie. One of my great, great ancestors was a baker in Germany and this recipe for Pfeffernüsse, German for Peppernuts, has been passed down from him. It’s been a Christmas tradition for as long as anyone in my family can remember. As an avid baker and recipe collector, I have never seen a recipe quite like it before. There are plenty of peppernut cookies out there, but few like this!

My mom makes most of the Christmas goodies every year, but my dad is in charge of the Peppernuts, since the recipe comes from his side of the family. It’s always neat to watch my dad cook and bake, and I think I’ve picked up a lot of his techniques. Whether he’s cooking pancakes, hamburgers or Peppernuts, he always sets out all the equipment and ingredients beforehand, measures and levels precisely, and follows directions to a tee. He has a routine for everything he makes and it always turns out impeccable. As kids, the only part my sister and I could help with was the rolling of the dough into balls, given that the dough was too stiff for little hands to mix! Once my dad got the dough ready, we would dig our hands in.

My Dad’s brother and two sisters all make these cookies for their families at Christmastime as well. While my dad prefers to slightly flatten out the balls before baking so they can be bitten into, my uncle makes them small and round so you can just pop it in your mouth. Either way, they are delicious and taste like Christmas to me!


(this is not a low-FODMAP recipe)


2 cups sugar
2 cups Sorghum (or ½ cup Molasses + 1 ½ cups dark Karo syrup)
2 cups margarine
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3 eggs
Anise oil to taste
Approximately 10 cups flour


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients, except flour, and mix. Gradually add flour, starting with 2 cups, adding until dough is very stiff. Roll into little balls, place on ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 1,000 cookies.

Additional Notes on Peppernut Cookies:

We usually make 1/3 recipe and use 1/8 tsp. anise oil.

Sorghum is a thick, dark syrup made from the sorghum plant, which resembles a corn plant. I have found it at the food co-op.

Anise oil can be found in the natural food department or the food co-op. It is licorice tasting and only small amount is needed.

Here I am in my kitchen with the batch of Peppernuts I made for the contest:

1 comment:

  1. That photo was taken 2 years ago and I still look exactly the same!