Friday, October 23, 2009


Pfeffernüsse is a traditional German Christmas cookie. It is quite deeply spiced with a sweet peppery tone and perfect for the Christmas season.

There's several cookies I bake around the holidays and this is definitely one of the first that comes to mind and I've finally made it.

I can't believe I'm even mentioning Christmas, Halloween hasn't even happened yet, so I'm just thinking of these cookies as a delicious cold weather treat. The warm spices in this will certainly make you feel cozy.

These cookies are very similar to lebkuchen, although lebkuchen is much more cake like. I always bought lebkuchen and pfeffernüsse from the Christmas German market in Edinburgh every single year. This year I decided to make them myself.

It's really nice to have the smell of pfeffernüsse cookies in my house early this year. Whenever you buy these cookies, as soon as you open them the whole house permeates with its aroma, so you can just imagine the smell of them straight out of the oven.

(makes 24)

  • 1 cup +2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • pinch ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black treacle (or molasses)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda and all the spices, set aside.

In another larger bowl beat the sugar, butter and treacle together with an electric whisk until smooth.

Add the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla extract and beat again.

Then fold the flour/spice mixture into the wet mix until completely combined.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. 

Form the cookie dough 2 inches apart using a mini cookie scoop.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes at 350F (you will need to do this in a few batches).

Allow to cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes.

Dip each cookie in a bowl of powdered sugar until completely coated.

Keep these in an airtight container and they will last a couple of weeks.


  1. Wow these look really good! I love German cuisine, but I have never had these... might make these around Christmas!

  2. oooooooooh! that's where your german was coming from the last few days hahaha they look zeer zeer lecker!!! :-D

  3. I LOVE the smell of these baking. I also eat too many of them and choke on the sugar. Bad girl.

  4. I don't know if I've eaten these before but as the recipe reads I'm pretty sure I would love them. I'm adding to my list of Christmas Cookies. Have you ever frozen the dough at the scooped stage? You know that whole do ahead and bake later for convenience thing.

  5. This was my first time making them but out of all the recipes I read for them, everyone seemed to say that the dough can be frozen for like a month.

    Thanks for stopping by :)

  6. I love these, have never made them, but I might just have a try.

  7. Yum, these look delicious! I will have to try these this Christmas!

  8. Delicious! Like little gingerbreads in cookie form! We ate these in Italy around All Saint's Day in the form of Ossi dei Morti - dead man's bones. These filled with pine nuts which crunched as if you were eating bones! I love this recipe and I should make them! Yum!

  9. Oh I love these & have gone back thrice to read the ingredients! Divine little bites! YUM!!

  10. These look wonderful... I'm starting to think about Christmas cookies too!!

  11. I've never tried these but they look really good. I have to put together an office dessert buffet this for Christmas and a few people in the department are from Germany. It sounds like something thoughtful I must include! Thanks.

  12. Love this recipe. Bet your house smells divine when they are baking! I've had these, but never made them. Think I will try this season.
    I know it seems early for Christmas but I they were putting decorations up in Rockefeller Center this morning- saw it on TV!

  13. I have no idea how to pronounce this cookie, but they look and sound delicious.

  14. I tried these one time when I was learning German. Thankfully they are a whole lot easier to make than it was to learn to speak German. I dropped the course but kept the cookies.

  15. they look amazing! I am going to have to begin cooking these I think. Nice one!

  16. These look amazing! And yes, it's nice to see some Christmas stuff amongst the tons of Halloween-related entries. Your blog is precocious holidays-wise. :)

  17. Hi, A Bowl of Mush! Congrats on the Tastespotting tweet :) These are the prettiest powdered cookies.

  18. I love pfeffernüsse! Save save save! The first time I had them I was visiting a boy friend's grandmother and she gave us pfeffernüsse and tea. Well she kept them by the laundry soap and you can guess what they tasted like lol!

    I tried them again later and fell in love with them.


  19. I know what you mean about thinking of Christmas before it is even Halloween. I have been doing it myself.

    These look wonderful.
    A recipe I might try for my Christmas cookie batches!

  20. These look great, I love the idea of making them for the holidays!

  21. Thanks for sharing! I'd love to try those. YUMMO!

  22. Your German cookies (no, I can't say the name without staring at the word for a good 7 seconds) look so pretty.

  23. Cookies covered in powdered sugar always remind me of the holidays. Hard to believe they're nearly upon us. But hey, that just means cookie time is now here. ;)

  24. Wow they look and sound great! That must have smelled sooo good in your an early Christmas!

  25. those pfeffernüsse look so cute and I would love to be eating one or two right now :)

  26. wow these look wonderful you did a great job love German cookies Rebecca

  27. Mmm wow these look yummy! I've never tried anything like these before!

  28. what an interesting recipe . I like spices so these must be delicious!

  29. I have never had one but these look yum. Thanks for posting this. I want to give it a try.

  30. Yah, gute essen. Der Klein Pfeffernuse. I lost my moms rescipe yrs ago,this seems close. Danke und,du hast mein herts beruht.

  31. Oh thank you thank you thank you!

  32. This is a wonderful recipe, thanks so much for posting it. I'm baking the cookies right now and the house smells like Christmas!

  33. I made these and they were fantastic! Although how you got the powder to stick so well escapes me, they were still delicious :)

  34. I love these cookies, they've always been a favourite, thanks for posting the recipe - one more thing to add to my " I need to make this" list :)

  35. I grew up eating these at Christmas but we never baked them ourselves. My Opa and Oma would send them from Germany and the delis would stock them too.

    I will definitely have to try these this year and wow my Mom and sister with them.


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