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Make these 3 or 4 weeks before Christmas to allow the flavours to develop. These traditional German biscuits, called Pfeffernüsse, can be bought ready-made.

Lynn Lewis and Joachim Wahnschaffe

Serves: 60 

  • 2 eggs
  • 230g (1 cup) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons marzipan paste, chilled
  • 60g (1/3 cup) candied lemon peel, finely chopped
  • 250g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) Kirsch
  • 1 egg white
  • 210g (1 2/3 cups) icing sugar

Preparation:30min  ›  Cook:4hours50min  ›  Ready in:5hours20min 

  1. Use 2 large baking trays; line with baking paper. Beat eggs and sugar for 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Finely grate the marzipan paste; fold it into beaten egg mixture with the candied peel.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder and mixed spice and sift over the egg mixture. Knead well to form a smooth dough. On a lightly floured work surface, shape the dough into 60–70 balls, each about 2.5 cm in diameter. Place on baking trays and flatten slightly. Cover; leave in a cool place overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 160°C. Brush the bases of the biscuits with Kirsch; reserve a few drops for the icing. Bake the biscuits for about 20 minutes.
  4. To make the icing, beat the egg white until stiff; gradually stir in the icing sugar and remaining Kirsch. Dip cookies in the icing and replace on baking tray. Leave to dry for 3–4 minutes in a warm oven.
  5. The cookies will now be very hard. Leave, covered with a cloth, in a humid, warm place to soften for 2 days. Then place in a tin with a slice of fresh bread or a small apple or orange; leave for at least 2 weeks to allow the flavours to develop.

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