December 20, 2010


I like to have a spice cookie with my Christmas cookie spread. Usually, given my love of ginger, I make my crystallized ginger spice cookies. This year I wanted to try something different though. I found this recipe for Pfeffernüsse (originally from Martha Stewart), a traditional German Christmas cookie, that means "pepper nuts." These cookies are slightly spicy and cake-like in texture. I really like them a lot. I enjoy having a spice cookie full of all the holiday flavors and that isn't super sweet. Although this particular recipe didn't call for nuts, I added them because I felt that a cookie that means "pepper nuts" should contain nuts. The recipe below is my slightly modified version and it will make about 2-1/2 dozen cookies.

1-1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped (optional)
1-1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the powdered sugar in a brown paper bag.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through salt).

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and molasses with a hand mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add the flour until it is all just combined. Then add the walnuts, if using, and fold them into the dough.

Pinch off dough in tablespoon amounts and roll into balls (about 1 to 1-1/4 inch in size). Arrange the dough 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are golden and firm to the touch, about 15 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Repeat until all the dough has been used.

Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Then, working in batches, place a few cookies in the paper bag. Shake lightly to coat with powdered sugar. Place back on the racks to fully cool. Store in an airtight container. 


  1. I have been meaning to try making these! Thanks for the reminder

  2. WHAT. WHAT IS THIS. I grew up eating these important from Germany and I looooove them. But they were like... a super special treat. And now you give me a RECIPE. Dear God, this is dangerous. I was going to make gingerbread for Christmas, but I might be making these instead....

  3. You are giving me too many delicious ideas!


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