Way back in 2004 I went on a 2-month exchange to Germany over December/January and it was the best Christmas I have ever had. All thanks to my amazing exchange partner and her family, I got to experience all the traditions, beliefs, practices and thrills of a true German Christmas, including the unmissable opportunity to learn how to make a huge range of German Christmas cookies. One of my favorites was the Pfeffernüsse (“pepper” + “nuts”).
The recipe I followed was a mix between the recipe I brought back from Germany and a recipe I found online. This made 30-odd cookies:
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 ground cloves
Roughly 25 grams of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup honey
Icing sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 180˚C (not fan-forced)
- Sift together flour, salt, pepper, cinnamon, baking soda, all spice, nutmeg and cloves
- Crack in the egg and put in the cubes of butter
- Pour in the honey, sugar and molasses. Mix together and knead to form dough
- Roll out the dough about 1 cm thick
- Slice into pieces about 3 or 4 cm wide (this depends on how big you want your cookies to be)
- Roll each piece into a ball and place on an oven tray lined with baking paper
- Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. This also depends on the size of the cookies. The larger ones I rolled took about 15-20 minutes.
Once they were done, I took the cookies straight from the oven and placed a couple in a plastic bag with icing sugar. Making sure that the opening was closed tightly, I shook the cookies in the bag until there was a nice coating of icing sugar on each of them. I repeated this until I had all the cookies dusted in sugar.
My exchange partner’s dad, who makes these cookies for them, makes a simple glaze out of icing sugar mixed with a bit of water. This must be brushed over the cookies when they are hot.
If I made these again, I would definitely not add as much sugar/honey/molasses/all of the above because these turned out a bit too sweet for my liking, especially since I covered them with sugar afterwards as well. I would probably go for about 3/4 of what the above recipe allows for.