One of the first people to pay any attention to this blog was REMCooks. If you’re not following his blog, you absolutely must. We’ve gotten many good ideas from his site. Most recently, he inspired us to make Pfeffernüsse, a German spiced cookie. I’ve made these for Christmases past, and, after seeing his post, decided to make them again. His recipe is similar to one I’ve used before, but knowing a lot of variations exists, so I wanted to try something different. I searched for recipes and settled on this one from Saveur.

One of the ingredients is candied lemon rind. We didn’t have any candied rind, but we did have a lemon, so Holly looked up a recipe and made some. Making these is simple enough. Basically, you just add equal parts water and sugar and boil until the rinds are transparent. The leftover liquid can be used as a lemon simple syrup, which I’m sure we’ll put into good use in some cocktails.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough rind to make enough for the Pfeffernüsse recipe, but I made up the difference with a mix of dried fruit (raisin, blueberries and cranberries) that we had on hand.

What intrigued me about this recipe is that it calls for making a glaze rather than the traditional powdered sugar.

The cookie calls for:

  • 1⁄2 cup honey (We used a local raw honey we got at the Fitler Square Farmers’ Market)
  • 1⁄3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1⁄2 cup candied lemon peel, finely chopped
  • 1⁄3 cup almonds, finely ground
  • 3⁄4 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon
  • 3⁄4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3⁄4 tsp. freshly ground cloves
  • 3⁄4 tsp. freshly ground cardamom
  • 1⁄2 tsp. baking powder

Ground almonds and seasoning

The glaze is made with:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1–2 tbsp. light rum

The recipe also suggests having some vegetable oil handy to keep the cookies from sticking to your fingers when you are shaping them into balls.

The first step, according to Saveur, is to put honey, molasses, and butter into a small pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until hot, 2–3 minutes and then remove from heat and let cool.

Honey and molasses

You then add the eggs and whisk to combine. Put flour, half the lemon peel, almonds, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, cardamom, and baking powder into a large bowl and stir to combine. Add honey mixture and beat with a wooden spoon until well combined, to form a dough. Cover surface of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Later, or the next day, after preheating the oven to 350° and lining baking sheets with parchment, you form dough into 36 balls, each about 1″ wide. Divide dough balls between baking sheets, keeping them spaced 1″ apart. Bake until slightly cracked on top and just firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool slightly.

Finally, you make the glaze by whisking together the confectioners’ sugar, rum, and 5 tsp. hot water. While the cookies are still warm, use a pastry brush to coat each one with a layer of glaze. While the surfaces of the cookies are still moist with glaze. They also suggest garnishing each cookie with more lemon peel but given we didn’t have enough for the batter, we skipped this part. Nonetheless, they were fabulous.


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2 thoughts on “Pfeffernüsse

  1. Kelly

    Ooh! These sound delightful. I’ve never ventured to try them before, but I’m a sucker for warm spices and molasses. Glad I stumbled upon them!