Pfeffernüsse translates in English as “pepper nuts”, and they are one of the most traditional cookies made during the holidays in many countries in Northern Europe. It is a perfect cookie to offer as a gift, as they are best when consumed a few days after baking. The recipe is found in the cookbook “Classic German Baking“, but it is also available online (click here). I made half the amount of spice mix, and still had plenty leftover.

(as published in Tasting Table)

For the Lebkuchengewürz spice mix:
5 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1½ tablespoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground mace
¾ teaspoon ground star anise

For the cookie dough:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup honey
¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons, granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lebkuchengewürz
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon baker’s ammonia
1 tablespoon rum, slightly warmed
1 egg

for glazing:
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
lemon juice added to desired consistency

Make the lebkuchengewürz: In a small bowl, whisk together the lebkuchengewürz spices until well combined. Makes about ½ cup. Store in an airtight container.

Make the pfeffernüsse: Heat the oven to 375° and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt to combine. In a small saucepan, combine the honey and granulated sugar over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the lebkuchengewürz and white pepper.

In a small bowl, dissolve the baker’s ammonia in the rum, then stir into the honey mixture. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl and add the flour mixture and the egg. Stir until a smooth dough forms.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place ½ inch apart on the prepared sheet pan. Bake until the cookies have domed and dried, 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice. If you want a thick glaze, add very little juice, if you want a transparent, thin glaze, add lemon juice and thin further with water. When the cookies come out of the oven, immediately brush them with the glaze. Let the cookies cool completely, then store in an airtight container for 2 days before serving.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I have a very warm spot in my heart for any sweets containing spices, Speculaas probably being at the very top. These cookies were a huge hit with my beloved husband and his golfing friends. You can approach the glaze in two different ways, thick as I made, or very very thin. Some say that the traditional type has super thin glaze, but I prefer the way they look with a thicker coating. Your kitchen, your rules, do whatever feels right for you. They pack a lot of flavor, and because they are so small, you don’t really feel guilty having one. Maybe two. I would advise you to stop before you inhale the fifth one. That might be harder than you anticipate…

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