Pfeffernüsse: German 'Pepper Nuts' Cookies

Pfeffernüsse are traditional German cookies. The name translates to “pepper nuts,” as they traditionally contain both pepper and nuts. My grandmother, Elfrieda Reifenberger, made them every year at Christmas without fail. She made them without nuts, so that is the version I make.


                                        4. c. flour                                              ¼ tsp. black pepper
                                        ½ c. sugar                                              ¾ c. molasses
                                        1¼ tsp. baking soda                                ½ c. butter
                                        1½ tsp. ground cinnamon                        2 eggs, beaten
                                        ½ tsp. ground cloves                               powdered sugar
                                        ½ tsp. ground nutmeg

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and spices. In a saucepan combine molasses and butter; heat and stir until butter melts. Let cool to room temperature. Stir in eggs. Add molasses mixture to dry ingredients and mix well. Wrap and chill several hours or overnight. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on a Silpat-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350º for 12-14 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar. Makes about 5 dozen.

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