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Pfeffernusse Cookies

On October 8, 2012 my father passed away.  I still find myself forgetting that he is no longer with us even though it has been over a year since he has passed. I often catch myself picking up the phone to tell him a joke only to put it back down.  I sometimes even see something in a store that he would like and go to grab it until reality hits.  It was a month or so after he passed when this first happened. I was in a local farm store when I picked up a bag of Pfeffernüsse cookies and put them in my basket, thinking, “Oh dad loves these”.   I strolled through gathering Pfeffernusse Cookiesingredients for dinner and then it hit me.  “Oh yeah right… dad loved these..”  I put the entire basket down and walked out of the store in tears.  I am not sure when forgetting he is gone will stop, but it is I guess one of the many ways we continue to remember our loved ones.

Pfeffernüsse (“pepper nut”) cookies are are richly fragrant and incredibly flavorful. They are also highly addictive!  They were also my Dad’s favorite cookie. They somewhat resemble gingerbread or gingersnap cookies (more of his favorites), but they are crunchy on the outside and chewy in the inside.  The powdered sugar really balances the peppery notes in the cookie.  I remember as a little girl he would hide them from me and my two younger brothers. Sometimes he Pfeffernusse Cookieswould also deny hiding them – but we knew he was lying because the powdered sugar was on his mustache or beard!   He did however share them more often than he hid them. 😎

These cookies are a popular holiday cookie in Germany, The Netherlands and Denmark. In the United States you can find them in stores around Christmas time.


  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons anise extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground freshly cracked black pepper (cracked as finely as possible)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar for dusting

How to:

  1. In a heavy bottom pot over low heat, combine the molasses, honey, and butter. Stir until the butter is just melted and the ingredients all come together, DO NOT BOIL.
  2. Once the butter is melted, remove the pot from the heat and pour into a large mixing bowl  of your stand mixer and set aside to cool.
  3. Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and process until finely ground, about 25 to 30 seconds.
  4. In a separate mixing  bowl sift together the flour, ground almonds, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, black pepper, and salt.
  5. Once  the molasses mixture is cool gently stir in the eggs and the anise extract.
  6. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the molasses mixture and mix on low until everything is thoroughly combined. You will have a thick dough.
  7. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  9. Line baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.
  10. Roll the dough into small 1 inch balls and place them on a baking sheet .
  11. Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes until done.
  12. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cookies cool slightly.
  13. While they are still warm roll them in the powdered sugar and then set them on a warming rack to finish cooling.