Read Sing Play

Adventures in early literacy

Pebernodder (aka dog food)


My senior year in high school my mom and I planned to spend Christmas in Mexico with my grandparents. As excited as I was to go, this would be my first Christmas away from home and cinnamon rolls and cranberry jelly. Would Santa even come? Should I pack my stocking?
We stayed with my Great Aunt Salli and Uncle Steve in Seattle before heading to the airport in the morning. They have this amazing house on Queen Anne Hill with perfect views of Mt. Rainier. Steve drove us to the airport, we said our goodbyes and went to the airline counter. Guess what? We couldn’t go until we got some papers taken care of (won’t bore you with those details). Back to Steve and Salli’s. Luckily for me, Salli makes these delicious little cookies every year in mass quantities (seriously, likes garbage cans full, I swear) and she just happened to have made a big batch very recently. I couldn’t get enough of those cookies! When we finally got our papers and got on the plane, there was an extra big bag of dog food cookies tucked into my backpack. Salli knew they’d make me feel less homesick. And they did.
For years I begged Salli for the recipe and she never gave it to me. Until 2009 when I got married. She slipped it in to my hand during the reception. It was one of the best gifts I ever got and now I’m sharing it with you (you lucky thing, you). Make big batches and make merry memories! And enjoy the reactions on people’s faces while you enjoy your “dog food”.
1 cup light Karo syrup
1 cup molasses
1 cup shortening (I use organic all vegetable shortening to avoid nasty trans fat)
11/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp soda in 1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp pepper
8 or 9 cups flour
Melt syrup, shortening, and molasses. Mix in sugar, spices, and soda water. Transfer to a big mixing bowl or kitchen aid mixer (use a mixer if you have one or be ready to get a major work out). Add flour one cup at a time. I usually only need 8 cups but if the dough seems super sticky then add more flour. Chill.

Roll in to snakes



And cut in to small squares (about the size of a filbert-think big dog food).
Put on baking sheet not touching (about 1/8 inch apart).

Bake at 350 about 20 minutes. Let cool completely before putting in jars or bags. These are very crunchy cookies so no, you didn’t over bake them. 😉




Author: Kendra

Children's Librarian in the Northwest. Lover of toddlers, twitter, and TV (T's, too, apparently!).

3 thoughts on “Pebernodder (aka dog food)

  1. MMMMMMM. This sounds a little like pfeffernusse, which has black pepper in it too, and i’ve always wanted to try because I like a really spicy gingerbread. I’ll have to give these a whirl! Thanks for sharing!

    • It’s the same thing! Everyone seems to have a slightly different name for them which makes it even more fun. There are other cookies called pfeffernuesse that have powdered sugar on them.

    • Oh and I should mentioning like pebernodder because it means pepper nuts and that’s just what they are!

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