Recently I had the opportunity to enjoy an interesting and food tour in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The theme of the tour was Milwaukee’s German heritage, and one of the stops along the way was The Spice House. The Spice House focuses on purchasing their spices from the best places of origin, for example, paprika from Hungary, cardamon from India and saffron from Spain. Every three to four months they replace 99% of their expansive stock, so you can image how many shipments they must receive on a regular basis. Once the spices arrive, they’re ground on the premises and processed in small batches to create unique blends. This resonates strongly with the local German culture, as authentic German shops tend to focus on quality, handmade products. Moreover, the German diet consists of hearty meats and comfort foods bursting with flavors, and spices play a large role in making sure these dishes are up to par in terms of taste.
One of The Spice House’s most popular recipes is a German cookie known as Pfeffernuesse. To make one pillowcase full of cookies, the recipe goes as follows:
2 pounds lard
2 pounds brown sugar
4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons cassia buds (can be omitted and increase ground cinnamon by 1 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons ground cardamom
2 tablespoons ground anise seed
2 tablespoons orange peel (can be omitted)
2 cups black walnuts
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon warm water
3 cups strong, black coffee, cold
1 handful salt
5 pounds flour
for dusting, powdered sugar
Cream lard and sugars. Mix in spices and nuts. Combine flour with salt and add, alternating with coffee and soda water.
Dough will be stiff, almost clay like. Roll into small balls the size of nuts. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Roll in powdered sugar when cool. Let age.
Photo courtesy of baumgarf.