December 31, 2010


These wonderful little packets of yummy goodness were introduced to me when I worked at a small coffee shop on the west side of Santa Cruz during my college years. The place was an offshoot shop affiliated with Beckmann's Old World Bakery who specializes in German breads, among other things. Pfeffernusse are a German spice cookie that shows up during Christmas and for the last two years Sarah and I have been making them for her family's annual cookie swap. They're delicious.

Some recipes I've seen call for candied citrus peel in the cookie dough, but I like to get my citrus in the icing instead.


2 1/4 Cups Flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 Cup Butter
3/4 Cups Packed Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Molasses
1 egg

Royal Icing, for dipping

Sift together the dry ingredients.  Cream the butter and sugar until well combined and fluffy.  This should take from 5 to 10 minutes in a Kitchen Aide mixer using the paddle attachment.  Once the butter and sugar are well creamed beat in the egg until well combined.  Beat in the molasses next.

Work in the flour mix in stages until just combined.  Don't want to overwork the dough here.  Chill until the dough is firm, or until you can handle it without it sticking to your fingers.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  When then dough can be handled, roll the dough in to small rounds about 1" in diameter and lay on a cookie sheet.  These shouldn't spread out much at all so if you need to cram them together it should be ok.  

Bake each tray of cookies for about 14 minutes, or until the bottom of the cookie is lightly browned.  Let the hot cookies sit on the tray for about a minute after they come out of the oven and then transfer them to cooling racks.

To make the Royal Icing beat one egg white until frothy.  Beat in 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp. lemon juice, and the zest of one lemon until well combined.  If the icing is too thick for dipping add in a little more lemon juice or water until you reach the right consistency.  You're looking for something that will stick to the cookie and ooze all around it, not something you'll plop onto the top and have sit there like you want for sugar cookies.
When the cookies are cool, dip each one in Royal Icing and cover completely.  Lay out on racks until dry.  This could take several hours depending on how goopy you made the icing.

Serve with hot chocolate.