Pfeffernusse is a popular and classic Christmas treat. These small, spiced, and powdered sugar-coated delights have been a beloved part of German holiday traditions for centuries. Discover how to make your own batch of Pfeffernusse cookies to share the warmth of the season with family and friends. Get ready to add a dash of tradition to your holiday baking repertoire!
For the Cookies
- ½ cup unsalted butter (113g)
- ½ cup packed brown sugar (110g)
- ¼ cup unsulphured molasses (80 mL)
- ¼ cup honey
- ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¾ teaspoon ground all spice
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon anise extract (or can omit or sub with vanilla extract)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (360g)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (240g)
- In a small saucepan, melt butter, brown sugar, molasses, and honey on medium heat until the mixture just starts to bubble, stirring frequently.
- Remove from heat and add the spices, the extract and the salt. Stir well. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool for about 20 mins.
- When barely warm, beat in egg. Combine flour and baking soda and fold in until incorporated.
- Wrap dough in plastic wrap, flatten to form a 1” thick rectangle, and chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours. However, the dough gets more flavorful the longer it rests so you can also refrigerate up to 3 days. DO NOT skip the chilling step or the cookie will spread too much.
- Position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Remove dough from refrigerator, unwrap plastic and cut into ¾ in wide strips. Cut the strips into cubes, then roll into a ball about 1.5 inches in diameter. Place balls on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies are golden and firm to the touch with slight cracking on top, about 12-15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Roll them in confectioners’ sugar, let fully cool then roll them again. (Alternatively, you can make a glaze by adding 2-3 tablespoons of milk to the powdered sugar in a small bowl, whisking until a thick glaze forms. Place a cookie on a fork over the glaze and spoon the glaze on top. Allow the excess glaze to drip off then set on a plate or wire rack.)
Make ahead tips: Dough may be kept the refrigerator for 2 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before shaping and baking.
Now is a great time to begin curating recipes to develop into your own Christmas traditions. Sonlight has some simple recipe cards where you can record your favorites and create your own Christmas Cookie Collection.