Pfeffernüsse cookies are a traditional Christmas cookie in Germany. Made with molasses, anise, pepper, and seasonal spices, these chewy cookies are coated in powdered sugar.
I have never been to Germany before, but it\’s one place I would love to visit at Christmastime. The pictures of the German Christmas markets (Christkindlesmarkt) leave me in awe. A couple years ago when I was in Chicago during the holiday season I got to stop at their Christkindlesmarkt was absolutely adorable. Not only did I get a few gifts at the market, but I fell in love with Pfeffernüsse cookies.
Since Christkindlesmarkt is not a thing this year, and I, unfortunately, will not be in Germany – I figured I would bring this German tradition to me. Over the weekend I turned on some traditional German music, danced around my kitchen, and made the most delicious Pfeffernüsse cookies if I do say so myself. Since they turned out so well, I thought I would share them with a few tips and tricks. Enjoy!
What are Pfeffernüsse cookies?
Pfeffernüsse is a small German spice cookie. The most distinctive ingredient being black pepper (Pfeffernüsse translates to peppernuts). They also contain either anise seeds or anise extract to give it that licorice flavor.
Tips and tricks to make Pfeffernüsse cookies:
1. You can make the dough ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for 2 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. The dough should be defrosted in the refrigerator and not left on the counter.
2. Prepared cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
3. To get the best cookies, you should refrigerator the dough for at least 3 hours after making it.
4. Anise tastes like licorice if you do not like that taste you can replace the anise with vanilla extract.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg
1 teaspoon anise extract (or vanilla if you prefer)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1. In a bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, black pepper, ground cloves, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a stand mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and molasses on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Beat in egg and anise extract until combined.
4. With the mixer at low speed, slowly add flour mixture and beat until just combined.
5. Wrap dough in waxed paper and chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours.
6. Position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 325° F.
7. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
8. Scoop about a tablespoon of dough and roll into balls 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
9. Place balls on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
10. Bake until cookies are golden and firm to the touch with slight cracking, about 13 minutes.
11. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
12. While cookies are still slightly warm, roll them in powdered sugar.