Pfeffernüsse are spicy cookies that are part of the Christmas traditions in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark. The name translates to peppernuts and it accurately describes their spicy taste as well as the fact that they contain finely chopped nuts and a small amount of black or white pepper.
1 cbutter, unsalted
1/2 ccorn syrup, light
4-5anise seed, more if you prefer
1/2 tspallspice, ground
1/2 tspfreshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tspcloves, ground
1white pepper, freshly ground
1 tspbaking soda
1/3 cwarm water
6 1/2 call purpose flour
3/4 calmonds, finely chopped (optional)
How to Make Pfeffernüsse
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and place rack in center of the oven.
- Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl that is large enough to hold all ingredients (a stand mixer like a Kitchen Aid is ideal for this, although you can also use a hand mixer — or even beat the ingredients by hand, if you are particularly energetic).
- Add the following ingredients one at a time, beating after each addition to incorporate: eggs, corn syrup, molasses, anise seed, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and white pepper.
- Dissolve baking soda in warm water, add to mixture, and beat again.
Add flour and nuts, if using, and beat mixture until all ingredients are well incorporated. The dough should be somewhat stiff.
- Take a handful of dough and roll it into a long cylindrical sausage shape about one inch in diameter. Repeat until you’ve formed all the dough into cylinders.
- Optional step: Wrap the dough cylinders in wax paper or cling wrap and refrigerate them for half an hour or longer (even overnight) before continuing with the recipe.
- Chilling the dough makes it easier to handle, but you can skip this step if you’re in a hurry.
Cut one-inch pieces of dough from the cylinders and roll the pieces into small balls. Place dough balls on baking sheets that have been lined with silicone baking mats or parchment paper (you can also use greased cookie sheets). It’s probably easiest to roll enough dough balls to fill one baking sheet, then start baking while you roll more.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. The cookies are done when baked through and starting to brown on top.
- Roll cookies in powdered sugar while still warm. (You can do this when the cookies are cold, but the powdered sugar sticks a bit better when the cookies are fresh from the oven.)
Store cookies in an airtight container.