In the Cookie Jar

Pfeffernusse – 2008

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Tiny, crunchy cookies with huge flavor, these pfeffernusse, or "pepper nuts" last for ages and go well with coffee, tea, or a teeny cup of milk.

Pfeffernusse are part of the 6 different German cookies I bake every year, to keep my late mother-in-law's tradition going. 

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I make these early in the game, because they'll last forever (as long as I hide them from the family). 

They're simple to make – just combine ingredients, chill the dough, roll it out to a quarter of an inch thickness, and cut out as many little circles as possible.

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Then you let them sit, uncovered, in a cool, dry place (like my pantry, for instance, away from children and cats) for about 12 to 24 hours.  Overnight works nicely.

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When you're ready to bake them, you just brush the tops with a little brandy and pop them in a low oven for about half an hour.  Let them cool completely before removing them from the cookie sheet.  Store, airtight, for a long, long time, if necessary.

Of course, you should always sample your baking.  You know, just to make sure they're acceptable.

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My original post, from 2007, can be found here, in case you're interested.

Or, if you're looking for a printable version, go here.

8 thoughts on “Pfeffernusse – 2008

  1. Do you freeze all these cookies for Christmas or do you make a new batch every day and enjoy them with your family as a sort of count-down/cookie advent calendar? Your kids’ friends must be so jealous! I know I am!

  2. Actually, I bake a gazillion cookies and send them out to family and friends for Christmas. My late mother-in-law made 6 different German cookies and shipped them out every year (pfeffernusse was one of the six), and when she passed away, I inherited her recipes, cutters, springerle molds, and so on, and I’ve kept the tradition going for the past 6 years. I’ve expanded it to include my side of the family in addition to my husband’s, and I’ve incorporated other cookies into the whole mix.

    So, to answer your question, I don’t freeze them, (many of the cookies I bake have a long shelf-life) but I’m stockpiling for right before Christmas…and at the same time my own little family enjoys them as we head toward the 25th.

    I also have what’s become an annual “cookie decorating day” with my sister’s kids, my kids, and some of my kids’ little friends – I bake a bunch of cookie cutter cookies and make a bunch of different colored royal icings…set out tubs of colored sugar and other decorations, and let the kids go at it. Everyone gets to take home what they’ve decorated. So my kids’ friends get to participate, too.

    It’s a crazy month around here!

  3. Those look soo tasty! I love pfeffernusse, and have a recipe for it somewhere, but have never tried baking any so far.

  4. Love this post and the story behind it!

    I want to alert you to the fact that the printable recipe says the 1/2 lb. flour is “about 4 cups.” Since I was feeling too lazy to get out an extra bowl to weigh with, I just used the four cups, and ended up with … a lot of sweet spicy flour. I ended up adding three more eggs to make a dough (haven’t baked them yet), but a half pound of flour is more like TWO cups, not four! I know this is an old post, but worldwide is forever…. Hope you get a chance to change that on the printable recipe. Thanks again for the wonderful stories and pictures.

  5. I just mixed up a batch of these. I’m expecting good things — the dough is delicious!!! I used the ‘hole’ from a donut cutter. Unfortunately, it has a closed top so I had to shake each little cookie out. I love your inherited family tools!!

  6. do your German recipes include a ground almond “stick” that has sugared brushed egg white on top. My Bavarian grandmother used to bake them and I neglected to get her to write out a recipe and don’t even know what to call them to ask. Probably butter, flour, finely ground almonds and not a whole lot more but my experiments have not produced the cookies I remember. Pat.

  7. Hi Pat,

    I dont see anything in my recipes like the cookie you describe. Weve got Almond Stars, that are made from ground almonds, sugar, egg whites, etc., but that doesnt sound at all like what youre looking for.

    Sorry I couldnt be more help!

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