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. 😉




Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

This delectable dabbling comes from a cookbook called ‘wichcraft by Tom Colicchio. Check the book out at your local library. You might even decide to buy it if you love sandwiches as much as I do. There are some really amazing looking things in this book, but being a sweets junkie I opted for the back of the book-desserts. It was a tough decision between the chocolate sandwich cookies and the peanut butter ones, but in the end chocolate won out.

Because our grocery stores are void of cocoa nibs I had to alter the recipe right off the bat. Plus, the recipe calls for 65% cocoa bittersweet chocolate and our store only sells 60%. Not a big deal, though. It will sub straight across and unless you have a palette refined for chocolate you will never know the difference. You can also sub with semisweet chocolate (maybe add 1/4 tsp of unsweetened for a richer flavor).
The cocoa nibs were harder. For starters, I had NO idea what they were. According to the book they are little pieces of roasted cacao beans. Well, I’m fresh out of those and wanting to keep with the idea of adding a bit of extra crunch, I experimented with coffee beans and chocolate. In a coffee grinder place a Tbsp of bittersweet chocolate chips and about Tbsp ground coffee (I used a dark roast). Grind it up until it is a powder.

Now, in a stand mixer or large mixing bowl place 1 and 1/2 sticks of softened unsalted butter (just nuke it for about 20 seconds to get it soft) and the powder you just made. Mix with 2/3 cup brown sugar (dark or light) and 2/3 cup granulated sugar until everything is well mixed.

Next, in a double boiler, if you have one, or in a small pan on very low heat, melt 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate. Add 1 tsp vanilla to the melted chocolate and add the whole mixture to your sugar mixture.

Now for the dry ingredients: 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 cup cocoa powder. Mix these all together and then add the mixture to your wet mixture until you have a smooth dough. Chill in the freezer for about 5 minutes (I forgot this step and they turned out fine).

On your countertop spread parchment paper or wax paper to cover a fairly large area. Plop the dough down on the paper. Top the dough with another layer of paper. Now get out your rolling pin and whack the dough until you no longer feel any stress about your life. Wait! I mean, gently roll the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough into about 2.5 inch rounds and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 1/2 inch apart. Bake them for 12-15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Gather any leftover dough and roll it out again, cut more cookies, and bake more cookies. Place cookies on a baking rack or a paper bag to cool.

Cooling Cookies

While cookies are cooling, make your filling:

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (finely chopped–seriously, the finer, the easier it is to melt)

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup heavy cream

Place chocolate , salt, and butter in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan, or in the microwave just until it boils. Don’t overheat it or it will scorch. Pour the cream over the chocolate and butter to melt the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Lay half of the cookies with the pretty side facing down. Using a spoon (or a piping bag if you have one) pour filling onto the cookies.

Half Way Done

Complete the sandwich with the other half of the cookies. Voila! You just made sandwich cookies. They look store bought and super fancy! If you don’t plan to eat them right away store them in the fridge, or some other cool place.

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies