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Pfefferneusse (Peppernuts)

This recipe, another nod to my fascination with miniatures, was discovered by my oldest son when he was in high school. He has always enjoyed cooking and when he was younger he could often be found near the bookshelf thumbing through my cookbooks. This recipe for Peppernuts must have caught his eye.

One December afternoon my son pulled a cookbook from the shelf and told me he was going to make Christmas cookies. He sounded like he knew what he was doing so I stepped out of his way as he got out the flour, sugar and various spices. He mixed and rolled and before long a warm holiday fragrance was wafting through the house and he was sharing bites of these wonderful little gems.

We have eaten Peppernuts many times since. Easy to make, wonderfully fragrant and delicious, these have become a holiday favorite at our house. What’s more, the recipe itself, especially when called Pfeffernuesse, hints at tradition and alludes to our German heritage. Though there is no anise in this cookie, as in most traditional Pfefferneusse recipes, that is a plus in my book as I have never cared for licorice flavors. Instead these little nuggets are full of the festive scents of cinnamon and allspice along with a smidge of black pepper and cardamon to add some exotic interest.

When I make these little Peppernuts I double the quantity of ground spices in the original recipe and add some clear sugar crystals for sparkle and crunch. Try these little bite-sized cookies and enjoy the flavor and fragrane of the season.

Pfefferneusse (Peppernuts)
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens “Cookies, Cookies, Cookies”

1/3 cup molasses
¼ cup butter
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
1 egg, beaten
coarse decorator’s sugar, if desired

Combine molasses and butter in a large saucepan. Over low heat, stir until the butter melts. Remove pan from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Thoroughly combine flour, baking soda,brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamon, allspice and pepper in a large mixing bowl.

Stir egg into cooled molasses mixture. Add dry ingredients stirring just until combined.

Cover the dough and refrigerate approximately 1 hour, or until dough is easy to handle.

Divide dough into twelve equal pieces. Roll each piece on a lightly floured surface into a rope 10-inches long. Roll each rope in coarse decorator’s sugar, if desired. Cut these ropes into ½-inch lengths. Scatter the pieces on ungreased cookie sheets leaving approximately 1 inch between each.

Bake at 350 degrees 10 – 12 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned on the bottom. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Share and enjoy!


Laura K said...

These are not the Pfefferneusse my grandma used to make. She made ones with candied fruit inside and a glaze over the top. The recipe she used is even in German. I'll have to try these. They sound yummy!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Traditional cookies are a must at Christmas time.

Cathy said...

Yummmm, I love these cookies but have never made them. Thanks for the recipe, Lisa. I can't wait to smell them baking.

Kathy Walker said...

These have been on my "got to do" list for a long, long time! I love them. I hope I can find time to make this happen this year!

grace said...

so are they crunchy? i love the look of them, and those spices are all welcome to infiltrate my apartment any time. the nod to your heritage is great too. :)

theUngourmet said...

I love the spice in these. I've never tried to make them. I'd love to give your recipe a try.

Hope you are keeping warm! :D

Anonymous said...

authentic pfefferneusse cookies are rolled in powdered sugar, not coarse sugar.

Cindy said...

I can almost smell those from here. Spicy and sweet, sounds like a great combo to me. That is so cool that your son bakes!

MaryBeth said...

YUMM-O..the scent of these baking must have made the house just simply smell of Christmas.

June said...

These look wonderful Lisa - good job. I had to laugh at the comment about "authenticity". While I also appreciate "tradition", don't we march to the beat of our own drums because we have our individual preferences? Isn't that what creative cooks do? Otherwise we'd all be buying from the same bakery.

Gypmar said...

I'm sure yours are far superior...but I've been greatly enjoying the version that Trader Joe's has on offer this year. They seem to have a light glaze underneath a coating of powdered sugar. Mmmm. Germany at Christmas time is the best!