Pfeffernüsse is a type of cookie I discovered in a mad dash to beat the crowds out of Grand Central Terminal and make it safely onto the 6:02 to Wassaic one pre-Christmas evening, many Decembers ago. I was cruising past one of the many Zaro’s outlets peppered throughout the station, looking for some kind of pastry or cookie package to bring back to Connecticut with me. (As if lugging two bags of Christmas gifts and my luggage wasn’t enough…) A bag of Pfeffernüsse on the cookie shelf looked interesting, better than bringing back some black & white cookies or another loaf of sourdough bread. My gut feeling was correct. My parents loved them, as did I!
Pfeffernüsse, also known as Pepper Nuts, are a wonderful type of spice cookie. If you are a fan of gingerbread, you’ll love these. Upon first glance, they are rather unassuming. However, the addition of freshly-cracked black pepper, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg will put you into the holiday spirit with just one bite. Some people coat them in powdered sugar after they are baked. Some people don’t. I never plan to be that latter person.
Also, it’s a wonderful word to say.
(Sorry, I’m on a bit of a holiday cookie sugar high right now…everything is way too silly…)
(Makes 15 – 18 cookies)
– 2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
– 1/4 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
– 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
– 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 stick butter, room temperature
– 1 egg
– 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
– 1/4 cup molasses
– 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 1 cup confectioners’ sugar (for dusting cookies)
Before We Get Started…
– Be sure to have a small paper bag or Ziploc bag to place confectioners’ sugar in. It’ll make dusting the cookies infinitely easier.
1.) Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets and set aside.
2.) In a large bowl, combine flour, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and baking soda. Set aside.
3.) Place butter, brown sugar, and molasses in a large bowl. Beat with an electric beater on medium speed until mixture is fluffy, about two to three minutes. Once combined, add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
4.) Slowly add in flour 1/2 cup at a time, beating with electric mixer at low speed. Repeat until all flour is combined and the dough is formed. If mixture is too thick to continue to beat, knead dough together with hands.
5.) Use a tablespoon to scoop out dough and roll into approximately 1″ balls. Place dough balls approximately one inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Depending on the amount of cookies made and size of the baking sheets, no more than one dozen cookies should be on each sheet.
6.) Bake cookies for 15 minutes, rotating sheets seven minutes in. Cookies may crack slightly and should be golden. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.
7.) Coating three to four cookies at a time, place cookies in bag with confectioners’ sugar. Shake until cookies are well coated. Knock off any excess sugar.
8.) Return cookies to wire rack and allow to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container.