Recipe: Peppernuts


I've been posting pictures of them on Instagram & unless you know me personally or live in an area with Swiss/German Mennonite roots, you've probably been wondering: What in the world are peppernuts??? 

I hear that a lot. 

They're a tiny cookie made with Christmas-y spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and anise oil. 

Though a bit labor intensive, I beg you to give these a try, especially since it's an ideal activity to make with help. Now that my girls are old enough to actual offer up USEFUL assistance, we've made it our tradition to roll out the dough over a Christmas movie. I've also thought it would be fun to invite some friends over to chat, drink wine & roll peppernut dough. (Want to join me?)  

My Grandma has been making these as long as I can remember, making them in time for Thanksgiving and not letting the peppernut jar run dry until after New Year's. I didn't even realize what a novelty they were until I moved away, and have since enjoyed making the tradition my own. 


Melt in Your Mouth Peppernuts

1 cup butter
1 and 1/2 C. sugar
1 beaten egg
2 T. dark syrup
3 and 3/4 C. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. cloves
1 t. ginger
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. anise oil (or 2 t. anise extract)

Cream butter, sugar, syrup and egg. Add dry ingredients and anise oil.

The dough is really stiff, so for the sake of your mixer, don't make a double batch. I personally just follow one batch immediately with another. The dough will also look a bit crumbly. If you're worried that it's not going to stick together at all, you can add a little water, one Tablespoon at a time – but would not add more than 3 Tablespoons.

Divide the dough into 3 or 4 balls & then chill the dough.  


This is the part where it's fun to have friends or at least a movie. :)

Working with 1 dough ball at a time (the rest stay in the fridge), roll out into long snakes the size of your little finger. Again, sometimes the dough can be a bit crumbly. The trick is to develop a smoosh-roll technique. Roll it out gently, if it starts to crumble a bit, smoosh it back together and then keep rolling. It's taken many years to perfect. ;)

Keep chilled. I like to roll out all my dough at once, piling it high on a rimmed cookie sheet in the freezer. Putting them in the freezer makes them a bit easier to work with.

Slice into small pieces and bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool on paper towels spread out on your counter. 


One more weird fact for you: This is probably the only cookie that isn't better directly out of the oven. I know. Weird, right? 


They're amazing by themselves, but try them with coffee. Trust me.


So. Good. And addicting. You've been warned. :) 

Let me know how you like them!


In case you'd like to know more about these little cookies, here's some more background information I've dug up: 

Like most baked goods, there are many variations of peppernuts. While most recipes call for cloves and cinnamon, some also use nutmeg or anise. A Danish recipe for pebernødder requires white pepper, while most recipes don’t use pepper at all. Some versions of the German pfeffernüsse contain pecans, ginger, or cardamom.

In the Netherlands, St Nicolas, patron of children, sailors and the city of Amsterdam, arrives by boat from Spain with his white horse and his helpers, chimney sweeps called Petes, to assist him. It is a busy time for St Nick, crossing the roofs with his horse while the Petes take the presents down the chimneys. Traditionally, the Petes also scatter “pepernoten” around for the kids.

German Mennonite women used to make the dough several weeks before Christmas and let it chill for up to a week in a cold cellar to let the flavors mellow.

Years ago, a reader on my blog, excited to see a photo of what she called “our peppernuts”, shared that her husband’s grandmother made them every year. Her mother-in-law didn’t share the recipe with her until she had been married for 25 years as it was a closely guarded family recipe that they knew had been in the family for at least 150 years. She was told that each village or family had their own shape and version of peppernuts, and the recipes were never shared outside the family.

Candied Orange Peel S'mores

It's camping season and that means S'MORES!

I'm the type of cook that likes to add some kick or zing to everything. While the s'more is close to perfect; I couldn't help eat one and ponder, "maybe some mint, anise, vanilla.....," then one day it hit me: "some zest!"

 You'll want to make these the morning of.

What You'll Need

  • 1 Peel of an Orange

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 cup water

  • Some more sugar

  • Graham Crackers

  • Premium, Ghirardelli, chocolate chips (that's what I like, read on to see why)

  • Marshmallow

  • Some roasting sticks

How You Do It

First thing you'll do is peel the orange, I have a little tool from Tupperware that works great. If you don't have one don't sweat it, use a paring knife or peeler to cut the orange peel into 1/4-1/2" slices, careful not to get the pith.

Next, throw the orange peel slices into a small pot, and cover with water. Then blanch em' for about 2-3 minutes. Remove them from the pot, and set them on a paper towel. Next, bring the cup of water to a boil, once boiling add the cup of sugar stirring until dissolved. Then add the the peel slices to the pot, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-17 minutes. Remove slices from the pot, and discard the syrup. Place the orange peel on a cookie sheet, and sprinkle some sugar on; sprinkle a lot of sugar. Gently, but aggressively shake the tray back and forth to insure sugar covers the peel well. Then let em' sit until time to use.

When the time comes make your s'more, you don't need me to tell you how. I do want to make one suggestion though; instead of chocolate squares use chocolate chips, inserting them into the marshmallow after roasting. I have found the marshmallow will adhere to the graham cracker, and not slide all over the place when you bit into it. When you go to build your s'more simply place 1 or 2 of the peel slices on the bottom, and enjoy.

Let me know what you think.


Additional Notes: Enjoy this s'more fireside with a shot or two of Frangelico.

Gluten Free Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Note: This is not paleo with the cream cheese & sugar, but it is gluten free.


A few months ago I found out I have I might have a gluten allergy my doctor told me to cut it out of my diet and see how it goes, and I've gotta say it's a big bummer.

It seems like wheat is hidden in everything — like just now I wanted to enjoy a pumpkin spiced Hersey's kiss. As I unwrapped the fall treat from it's smartly autumn colored wrapper a thought went through my mind, "I bet this has gluten in it," everything else I want to eat impulsively does. So off to the company website I go, and yep, it's got gluten. I sigh and place it back in the candy dish......bummer.

This is a typical day for someone with a Celiac Disease or Gluten-Intolerance and the Holiday's are definitely tormenting with the rolls, stuffing, cakes, cookies, pastries, and pies. Don't fret though, I have a cheese cake recipe that will make skipping Aunt Cara's Cinnamon Sugar Apple Pie with a scoop of Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream not seem so bad.


  • 7 oz of Gluten Free Ginger Snap Cookies

  • 1 cup Toasted Walnuts

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. Dark Brown Sugar

  • 5 tbsp. Butter (melted)

  • 1/2 cup Sugar

  • 1 tbsp. Orange Zest

  • 24 oz. Cream Cheese (at room temperature)

  • 4 Large Eggs (at room temperature)

  • 1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

  • 1/2 tsp. Salt

  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream

First preheat the oven to 350F while the oven is heating up place the walnuts on a cookie sheet once the temperature in the oven has risen place the walnuts into the oven for about 8-10 minutes then allow them to cool. After the nuts have cooled for a bit place 1/2 cup of them and the ginger snaps graham crackers 2 tbsp. brown sugar into a food processor or blender and process the mixture until its finely ground. With the motor running, add the melted butter and continue to blend until the mixture is well incorporated. With a bit of oil and a paper towel oil the bottom of a spring formed pan. Pat the mixture evenly into the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan, and then bake it for about 8 minutes.


Combine 1/4 cup of the sugar and the orange zest in a food processor or blender and process until combined.


Meanwhile, place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until light and fluffy it should take 3 to 4 minutes. Add the orange sugar mixture, remaining granulated sugar, and the 1/2 cup of brown sugar and beat again until the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, 1 at a time and mix until just incorporated, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Next, add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

Add the salt and heavy cream and mix until just blended.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan.

Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it.

Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour hot water into the roasting pan until the water is halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake until the sides of the cake are slightly puffed and set and the center still jiggles, about 55 minutes.

Turn the heat off and prop the door open with a wooden spoon and allow the cake to cook in the water bath for 1 hour. Remove the cake to a baking rack and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover the cake and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours until chilled through.


Top with the warm apple topping, drizzle liberally with the caramel sauce and sprinkle with the remaining toasted walnuts. Serve additional sauce on the side.

Apple Mixture

  • 2 cups Apple Juice

  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar

  • 1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

  • 1 tbsp. Butter

  • 3 Granny Smith Apples (peeled, seeded and thinly sliced)

  • 3 Gala Apples (peeled, seeded and thinly sliced)

  • 1/4 cup Calvados Brandy

Bring apple juice, sugar and vanilla to a boil in a large saute pan over high heat and cook until slightly thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup. Stir in the butter until melted.


Next, add the apples and cook (I used the slicing blade of a box grater to cut the apples), stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized and soft. Then, add the apple brandy and cook until reduced by 1/2. Transfer the apples to a plate and let them cool slightly.

Apple-Caramel Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar

  • 1/4 Cup Water

  • 3/4 Cup Heavy Cream

  • Salt to Taste (I happen to like salty caramel)

  • 3 tbsp. Calvados Apple Brandy

  • 1/2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

Place sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a roaring boil, swirling the pot occasionally to even out the color, should be amber.

Meanwhile, warm the heavy cream and in the pan. When the caramel has reached the desired color, slowly whisk in the heavy cream and whisk until it is well blended and creamy.

Remove the blend from the heat and stir in the apple brandy, and vanilla extract, seasoning with salt to your liking. Keep warm. If you need to make the apples and caramel sauce ahead of time simply reheat them over medium heat in a sauce pan. I usually put the caramel in a glass container and reheat is in a pot of water.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, let me know what you think and cue us in on your favorite gluten free desert.


Beautiful, classic cheesecake, rich and sweet, with a texture so velvety smooth; is there anything better?

You have been forewarned this cheesecake is so rich only a sliver may leave you a bit queasy, but EAT it's worth it! What is Needed for the Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs

  • 2 tbsp of sugar

  • 1/4 cup butter melted


  • (3) 8-oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 4 eggs, room temperature

  • 1 tsp pure almond extract


  • 1 pint sour cream

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

The Crust: Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl and mix well. Press the mixture into a springformed pan with a glass; set aside.

The Filling: Beat the cream cheese until soft and smooth. Add the cup of sugar, add eggs one at a time beating well after each. Add mixture to the crust bake at 350F for 25-35 minutes until the filling is set. Let cool for 30 minutes.

The Topping: Beat the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla until thoroughly blended. Spread over cheesecake and bake at 350F for 10 minutes. Chill thoroughly prior to serving.