Friday, October 15, 2010

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies—Pfeffernussen Cookies

I’m in Idaho visiting my parents.  So far, after getting here late Wednesday night, I’ve made “my” chocolate chip cookies so my niece, Kayla, could take them to her college classmates and share them. 


The cookies taste pretty good, but aren’t quite my usual favorite as I didn’t have cake and bread flour and just used all purpose instead and only had some store brand semi sweet chocolate chips instead of my favorite Ghirardelli 60% cacao chocolate chips.  But they were a big hit because everyone loves a BIG, gooey chocolate chip cookie!

But for this week’s Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies, I was flipping through my mom’s copy of Martha Stewart’s Cookies book looking for something and decided on the Pfeffernussen Cookies, really because it’s just so fun to say and I liked that they were covered in snow, I mean powdered sugar and they had nice spicy flavors.

I thought they were going to be more like shortbread or the Mexican Wedding Cookies, but they are actually kind of soft.  They are good and would definitely be a nice addition to your Christmas cookie trays.  My only small request for them would be to had some ground ginger next time.  They have every other spice in them, black pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves—but no ginger.  I thought there was just a little something missing.  So if I made them again, I’d also add some ginger.  I only snapped a few pictures of them.


The cookies are supposed to be lightly shaken in a bag full of powdered sugar.   I did some dunked in a bowlful of powdered sugar, but kind of liked how they looked when I just sprinkled some sugar on with a powdered sugar shaker, like they got just a little light dusting of snow.


I only slightly changed Martha Stewart’s recipe as it didn’t have any salt and called for unsalted butter, so I added a little salt, and should have added some ginger.  Still, these are some good cookies and if you’re wondering, Pfeffer means “pepper” in German and Nuss means “nut”—which refers more to the shape than the taste, since they have no nuts.

Pfeffernussen, adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • I think they could use some ginger!


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the confectioners' sugar in a brown paper bag. I just dunked each cookie in a bowl of powdered sugar, some I even just sprinkled with powdered sugar in a fine mesh strainer and liked those best.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. Place butter, brown sugar, and molasses in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture; beat until just combined. Pinch off dough in tablespoon amounts; roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. Arrange balls 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. (Dough can be frozen at this point, covered tightly with plastic wrap, up to 1 month.)
  4. Bake until cookies are golden and firm to the touch with slight cracking, about 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer sheets to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Working in batches, place cookies in paper bag; shake until well coated. Let cool completely on wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Want more ideas for Christmas cookies—the holiday will be here before we know it!  Check out all the links to the other Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies Bakers/Bloggers below.  Happy Baking! 

**Disclaimer—the cookies are much better in texture and flavor the next day! ;)


How cute is a sleeping baby!  One Wednesday we drove at 3 p.m. for 6 plus hours to Idaho, the last hour was horrible for Sam who kept crying “Wanna get out” and saying his back hurt.  :(  Moments later I looked back at him and he looked so peaceful.  Love this guy!  (Then he woke up about 10 minutes before we arrived at my parents, of course, crying.  We’re happy to be home!


Lisa said...

Those pfeffernussen look and sound great. I've never made them before, but I've got all the spices so I really should. I do agree, however, that ginger would be a good addition. A spice cookie to me is just not complete without it. I made a recipe from my mission for this week's pick.

♥peachkins♥ said...

I'm all for the classic choco chip cookies..

Art and Appetite said...

Katrina! You know what, you just totally convinced me with doing cookies this Christmas with your posts! Totally! I gotta give your recipes a try before December comes--because I sooo know, I will be baking lots. And I mean LOTS!

Have a wondeful Friday, Katrina!


I have been wanting to try pfeffernussen for years, and I think I might have to now - they look great! Your lil guy is too sweet.

Avril said...

Yummmmmmm.....I've always seen these cookies in specialty bakeries and have always been intrigued but never tasted one. Your description and pic's give me a better sense of them now.

Fabulous picture of your little guy sleeping....precious!

Megan said...

I have never made this kind of cookie but I love all those flavors. I'll be sure to add ginger when I do finally make them! ;)
Nothing more heart breaking then a crying and unhappy baby. Shoot, that would be a long ride for me, so I can sympathize with him Give the kid a cookie! LOL
Have a great weekend Katrina!

Steph said...

I love the snow dusting! Amazing what some powdered sugar can do. A big gooey chocolate chip cookie sounds great right about now

Sue said...

I love all the spices in the Pfeffernussen cookies(and pepper too)! I'll take your advice and add ginger if I make them:) Have a great weekend!

megan said...

I saw those cookies in the book and wondered what they'd be like. Now I know! And I agree - ginger would have been perfect in there.

Hope you're enjoying your trip!

Anonymous said...

Were the pfeffernussen still soft the next day? I made a different recipe years ago and I don't remember them being soft.

Unknown said...

If only I slept as well as my daughter! she gets a solid 12 hours every night!

Donna-FFW said...

Ive never tried this type cookie, but it certainly sounds very festive, I love all the spice. The aroma must have been fantastic!

Amanda said...

I've heard of these but never tried them. They sure do look good! What a sweet little boy, I BET you were glad to get home :)

Anonymous said...

Kayla and friends are lucky to be the recipients of these cookies!

Lee Ann said...

I've never made pfeffernussen before but always seen them in christmas cookie books... think I'll try them this the chocolate chip look soooo yummy.

Melynda said...

I have never heard of these cookies but sound delicious!

Wende said...

These look like a great holiday cookie!

Unknown said...

I love the spice of these cookies! Ginger would certainly be a great addition! I agree with you. These days recipes say unsalted butter and no salt - I think a little salt brings out the flavours! Good thinking! Driving with crying babies is so hard! I feel for you!

Jacque said...

Oh, holy cow, that's a lot of cookies! Can't wait to look through them all.

Your entry sounds delish, I love spice cookies and thanks for the tip, definitely have to have ginger!

Emily said...

He is so freakin' cute! Love him!

These pfeffernussen cookies look wonderful. I'll have to remember these for Christmas.

Erin said...

These look delicious and your chocolate chip cookies look amazing! I'd take them to college too =o)

Jamie said...

I've never had or made these cookies before. I love the dusting of powdered sugar. They really do look good.

Leslie said...

Love the pic of your munchkin!!!! The cookies do sound like they would be yummy with some ginger!!

Unknown said...

Pfeffer what? I never know how to pronouce them :P Seen them around a lot, they look wonderful. And nuts in cookies are simply perfect. Yumm1

April said...

These sound yummy! I am loving the spicy with the sweetness with the powdered sugar!

amanda @ fake ginger said...

What a cute picture. Sleeping babies are always adorable. :)

Your cookies look great! It's weird that ginger wasn't included in the recipe - it seems like it would fit right in.

Tressa said...

Ok, so pfeffernuesse (or peppernuts) have been our family's Christmas cookie for generations. The recipe has been passed down for I don't even know how many generations. I know that it came from my maternal grandmothers side of the family which is of German descent.
Anyhow, our peppernuts are so different from anything I have ever seen anywhere else. There is no powdered sugar on them. They are small and hard, and oh so yummy.
Here is our recipe (on my sister Holly's blog) with pictures and directions so you can try our version if you want.
We make these by the buckets during the holidays. They are fairly time consuming, but we don't care. :)

Anonymous said...

Bless you! I hope you don't mind comments on older posts like this but I was looking for a cookie like this and I didn't know the name of it. They came in Christmas box cookies my mother bought, and I wanted an homemade version.If it wasn't for your blog I would've never found them. Thank you!