pfeffernusse (pepper nuts) "the german christmas cookie"

★★★★★ 5
a recipe by
Sarah Prieb
Auburn, CA

This is a VERY spicy version of this cookie! If you like less spice, start with a quarter of the spices and add to taste.

Blue Ribbon Recipe

These Pfeffernusse cookies are a little bit of work and prep but trust us, they are worth it. Lemon and candied orange peel give these soft and tender cookies a delicious citrus flavor. The citrus is a nice contrast to the spices. Cinnamon and cloves are noticeable and the pepper just lingers a bit. They remind us of Christmas. Since the cookie itself is not overly sweet, the citrus glaze adds a bit of sweetness.

— The Test Kitchen @kitchencrew
★★★★★ 5
serves 35-50 cookies
method Bake

Ingredients For pfeffernusse (pepper nuts) "the german christmas cookie"

  • 1 c
  • 1/2 c
  • 1
  • 2 Tbsp
  • 1/2 Tbsp
  • 1/2 c
    candied orage peel (see bottom for recipe)
  • 1 lg
    lemon (zest + juice)
  • 3 tsp
  • 1 tsp
    ground cloves
  • 2 tsp
    ground pepper
  • 2 tsp
  • 2 3/4 c
    all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp
    baking soda
  • 1 c
    walnuts or almonds, coarsely ground
  • 1 c
    powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp
    lemon juice (+ or -)
  • 3
  • 1/4 c
  • 1 c

How To Make pfeffernusse (pepper nuts) "the german christmas cookie"

Test Kitchen Tips
We added a few tablespoons of sugar processing the orange peel to help grind them. We suggest preparing the candied orange peel the day before to allow it to completely dry. Also, these do have a peppery kick to them. You can definitely only use 1 tsp of ground pepper and still have a flavorful cookie.
  • Pfeffernusse cookie ingredients gathered.
    This cookie seems difficult but if you prep everything ahead, then all you have to do is throw it in the bowl. So, candy the orange peel, zest and juice the lemon, measure the spices, and use a food processor or nut grinder to get the nuts to a coarse grind.
  • Peel removed from oranges.
    CANDIED ORANGE PEEL: Cut the top and bottom off oranges so they can sit flat. With a knife or vegetable peeler cut the skin off the orange so that it has as little pith as possible.
  • Orange peel run through a food processor.
    Pulse in the food processor until coarsely ground. To make the peel less bitter add to a pot of boiling water. Boil for 1 minute. Let stand for 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve.
  • Peel boiling in sugar and water.
    Bring sugar and water to a low boil. Add the peel and simmer for 3 mins.
  • Orange peel drying.
    Strain through a sieve and spread out on waxed paper. Let dry.
  • Butter, sugar, and egg combined in a bowl.
    To make the cookie, cream the butter, sugar, and egg.
  • Molasses and vanilla extract added to the butter.
    Add molasses and vanilla; stir to combine.
  • Candied orange peel, lemon zest, juice, and spices added to bowl.
    Add candied orange peel, lemon zest, juice, and spices; stir to combine.
  • Flour, baking soda, and nuts added to the bowl.
    Slowly add flour, baking soda, and nuts. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Balls of dough on a baking sheet.
    The next day, shape into 3/4 in. balls (or scoop with a small cookie dough scoop) onto greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  • Baking the Pfeffernusse cookies.
    Bake at 325 F for 15-18 mins. until cookies are set and bottoms are LIGHT golden brown. They will firm as they cool. Overbaking will result in a hard cookie. Let cool on cookie sheet for a minute then place on a cooling rack that is over a sheet of foil.
  • Lemon juice and confectioners' sugar in a bowl.
    TIME TO GLAZE: Mix lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth with the consistency of warm honey.
  • Dipping cooled cookies in the glaze.
    Hold the cookie by the bottom and dip the top portion in the glaze. Place back on the cooling rack. Glaze the cookies while still warm.

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