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Pfeffernusse: A Holiday Cookie Recipe

Updated on December 22, 2013
Homemade Pfeffernusse
Homemade Pfeffernusse | Source
5 stars from 1 rating of Pfeffernusse

Cook Time

  • Prep time: 12 hours 15 min
  • Cook time: 15 min
  • Ready in: 12 hours 30 min
  • Yields: About 3 dozen cookie balls

Have you ever eaten Pfeffernusse?

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One of the wonderful and interesting things that I discovered (or uncovered) when I have looked through the history of the American Holidays, especially Christmas, is just how much of our “traditional” American things are strongly based on the Old World (German, Danish, Irish and Dutch) origins: Santa Claus (Sinterklaas), the Christmas tree (Thor’s Oak), are both all strongly German. The Halloween Jack O Lantern is based on an Irish tale involving turnips.

Also, many of our holiday treats are from Europe, like Eggnog (from East Anglia, England; originally it was called, “egg and grog”). One of the tastier treats from the Old World is known as Pfeffernüsse, which means “pepper nuts”. (It is also known as “Pimpernüsse" in some places in Germany.) They are little round cookies made with spices, including black pepper, and honey and rolled in powdered sugar.

Pfeffernüsse has a long history of being a seasonal treat for the Danish and Dutch (who call it, “Pepernoten”) for Christmas or “Sinterklaas”.

Today, the recipe for these cookies includes chocolate, and the following recipe includes the chocolate and the nuts that have because commonplace in this holiday treat.

Now, you don’t have to wait until the holidays to enjoy these cookies, but once you’ve had these delicious treats at Christmastime, they’ll become a regular staple of your holiday menu.

Pfeffernusse ingredients
Pfeffernusse ingredients | Source


2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon of double acting baking powder

1/8 teaspoon of baking soda

¼ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of black pepper

¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon of ground ginger

¼ teaspoon of ground clove

¼ teaspoon of allspice

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

½ cup of vegetable oil

1/3 cup of white sugar

1 whole egg

1/3 cup of dark molasses (light molasses is fine)

(0r half clover honey and half molasses to equal 1/3 cup)

1 tablespoon of light corn syrup (dark is fine if using light molasses)

1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

2/3 cup of sliced or chopped almonds (other nuts are fine as well; hazelnuts, pecans, even walnuts)

½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (dark chocolate is also good)

Dough mixed together
Dough mixed together | Source
Roll the dough into 1-2 inch balls
Roll the dough into 1-2 inch balls | Source
Rolling the cookies in powdered sugar
Rolling the cookies in powdered sugar | Source


1. Measure out the vegetable oil in a measuring cup and pour it into a large mixing bowl (keep the cup oiled, it will make it easier to measure and pour the molasses and honey later on).

2. Add the white sugar to the large mixing bowl with the oil, and mix together the oil and the sugar using a whisk.

3. Next, add the whole egg and whisk it until the egg is light and fluffy.

4. In a secondary mixing bowl combine the all-purpose flour, baking soda, double acting baking powder, ground cinnamon, black pepper, salt, nutmeg, allspice, clove, ginger and sift it until it is well mixed without lumps.

5. Measure out the molasses in the oiled measuring cup and add the honey to the cup, measuring equal parts to a total of 1/3rd cup.

6. Add the one tablespoon of lemon juice to the measuring cup.

7. Add the one tablespoon of corn syrup to the measuring cup.

8. Remove the whisk and use a plastic spatula.

9. Pour the honey, molasses, corn syrup, and lemon into the egg, sugar and oil mixture.

10. Fold the ingredients together.

11. Slowly add the flour mixture, in thirds to the wet ingredients, completely incorporating all the wet and dry together before adding the next third of the flour.

12. When all the ingredients are mixed together, fold in the chocolate chips and the almonds.

13. After all the chocolate and almonds are fully integrated into the dough, cover and chill the dough overnight in the refrigerator.

14. After the allotted chilling time, rolling to dough into 1-2 inch balls and place them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. (You should be able to get 2 dozen on 1 sheet.)

15. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

16. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes.

17. In a small bowl pour about ½ a cup of powdered sugar.

18. After the cookies have baked, remove them from the oven and roll them in the bowl of powdered sugar to coat each one in powdered sugar.

19. Roll any remaining dough into 1-2 inch balls and repeat the baking and dusting process until all the dough in used up. (You should have enough dough for one sheet of 24 balls and a second for 12 balls.)

20. Serve as a wonderful holiday treat with coffee or spiced cider.


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    • Edgar Arkham profile image

      Edgar Arkham 5 years ago from San Jose, CA

      thank you for reading

    • Vacation Trip profile image

      Susan 5 years ago from India

      Hmmm delicious one. Like the hub, Voted UP :)... Am New @ HP, following you now and looking forward to read your other articles.

    • Edgar Arkham profile image

      Edgar Arkham 5 years ago from San Jose, CA

      Thank you for reading!

    • KDeus profile image

      Keely Deuschle 5 years ago from Florida

      These look delicious! will certainly try them! Thanks so much for sharing them!

    • Edgar Arkham profile image

      Edgar Arkham 5 years ago from San Jose, CA

      Thank you for reading! I love history and food. Sometimes, when you look a little deeper into certain food recipes, you can learn alot about the culture that created it; which makes eating the food even more enjoyable. Thanks again for reading.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Edgar, I love the recipes when they have a bit of history or educational value to them. Yours is exceptional! I enjoyed the read and the lesson. I have seen these cookies before and I will have to taste them next time I come across the treats.