Pfeffernusse Cookies

December 15th, 2010 by Erin Gennow
Pfeffernusse Cookies

Pfeffernusse Cookies

I remember getting these German holiday cookies from a box around the holidays when I was growing up.  I don’t ever remember making them.  I love the strong spice flavors of Pfeffernusse, and the word is just fun.  These are great with a cup of coffee, an espresso, or black tea.  The cookies develop a stronger spice flavor as they get older, and the powdered sugar coating adds not only excellent sweetness, but also a festive holiday touch.

Prep Time: 15 minutes + overnight rest

Cook Time: 12 minutes per batch

Serves: About 42 cookies


2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon ground all spice

A pinch ground ginger

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons lemon zest

½ cup dark molasses

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

About 1 cup powdered sugar, for rolling the cookies


Mix together in a large bowl, 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground cardamom, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon ground all spice, and a pinch of ginger.  Whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl, beat the butter until soft.  Beat the white and brown sugars into the soft butter until creamy.  Add the egg yolks and mix until thoroughly combined.  Mix in the lemon zest.  Stir one third of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, just until combined.  Add the molasses and gently combine.  Then stir in the remaining flour mixture, again just until combined. When fully blended, double wrap the dough with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator overnight.  This helps the flavors to develop.


Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Take tablespoonfuls of dough and roll them into small balls.  Place them on a non-stick baking sheet or a greased baking sheet and bake for about 12 – 14 minutes.  They will spread slightly, but not much.

Once the cookies have cooled a bit roll them in powdered sugar.


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