Flying Flour, Splashing Spices, Roomful Aromas

Friday, November 25, 2011

Peffernusse for Jack

Pfeffernusse for Jack, with help from TFL Baking Friends

I have a great neighbor, Jack, who like most of us gets naostalgic with the onset of the holiday season.  Moms, Grandmas, kitchen delights, aromas, tastes, flavors and textures long since missed haunt us from childhood.  Longing for hands-on and tastebud triggers, we search for recipes of delight.  Jack called night aksing if I was familiar with an old fashion German cookie, the Pfeffernusse.  So happens, I am and even have an authentic recipe from a work colleague from 1986 in Wichita, Kansas!  Jack was excited that I might just be able to recreate this childhood memory and taste of the 'pepper nut' cookie.

My recipe cookie is a quite small hard bit I have learned are called "buttons".  His cookie is round and coasted with powdered sugar. I did a search and found several versions.  Wanting the recipe to be as authentic as possible, I turned to fellow bakers on The Fresh Loaf site.  I got assistance right away from, Mini Oven, RonRoy!  Thanks! Ron sent me to an image link that lead me to a great resource, where Kristen had shared her heart warming story of baking pfeffernusse.  Flournwater sent me a 1939 recipe from the Pennsylvania Dutch traditions.  Black Friday? Not for me!  I have baker's delight going on in the kitchen and more recipes to try.

Pfeffernusse German Cookies Recipe
shared online by K. Hupp

For Jack
recipe #1 is K. Hupp's

This is a traditional recipe for Pfeffernusse cookies which are often made in Germany during the Christmas holiday season. They are spicy, crisp, peppery cookies which are wonderful for dunking in milk or coffee. Their taste even improves with age when kept in a sealed air-tight container at room temperature. Baked cookies can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
1/2 cup butter or margarine 3/4 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup honey 2 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar for dusting
Grease cookie sheets and set aside.
Melt butter or margarine over medium-low heat in a saucepan. Stir in the molasses and honey and continue to heat and stir until mixture is creamy and well blended. Remove the saucepan from heat. Allow to cool to room temperature. Stir eggs into the cooled mixture.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, anise seeds and salt until well blended. Stir in the molasses mixture and mix well until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate dough for 1 to 2 hours.
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Roll dough into small balls about 3/4 inch in diameter. Place dough balls 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. 
Bake in preheated oven 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Use a spatula to move cookies to a cooling rack.
Place powdered sugar in a plastic bag. Adding a small amount of cookies at a time, shake gently to coat completely with powdered sugar. Recipe yields about 5 1/2 dozen cookies.


  1. The cookies have been sealed tight in a tin, tucked in a zip lock bag for almost three days.... they are not hard.... they are soft, spicy and quite tasty. Just not the hard texture Jack requested.

    Next recipe to try will be the one from He sent me a recipe from a Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook published in 1939. It calls for no butter... and they rest over night before the bake.

  2. I delivered these to Jack this morning. He commented they should be more of a sphere, leave out the black pepper, and they should be harder. Others from The Fresh Loaf have chimed in with more recipes, videos and suggestions. Hartshorn should do the trick for adding some crisp to the texture as will using a recipe that does NOT call for butter. So, here comes trial recipe #2!