BEST Authentic Pfeffernüsse

One of Germany’s most popular and beloved Christmas treats, these spiced and iced cookies are simply delightful!  A thoroughly authentic and incredibly delicious Pfeffernusse recipe that will bring back fond memories or help create new Christmas traditions!

pfeffernusse recipe authentic traditional iced gingerbread cookies pfeffernuesse

What Are Pfeffernüsse?

The Netherlands and Germany enjoy a similar cookie in the month of December.  Known as Pepernoten in the Netherlands, they are eaten in celebration of the arrival of Sinterklaas on December 5.  In Germany they are known as Pfeffernüsse and although St. Nicholas comes on December 6, Pfeffernüsse are enjoyed throughout the entire Christmas season.

The coming of the jolly bearded man so early on in the month will sound confusing to those who await Santa on December 25.  But in Germany, and many other European countries, the tradition is that St. Nicholas visits the kids earlier in December. Traditionally shoes are left in front of the door and if you’re good they’ll be filled with oranges and nuts – if you’re bad, you’ll get shoes full of coal.  Then, on Christmas Eve, it’s not Santa who comes to the home to deliver gifts, it’s the Christkind – the Christ child, the ultimate Giver – who gives the gifts.

Pepernoten and Pfeffernüsse are both spice/gingerbread-like cookies and have some similarities, but the ingredients vary as does the method of preparation.  Also, Pfeffernuesse are commonly coated with a sugar icing.

The name Pfeffernuesse means “pepper nuts.”  The pepper part refers to the white pepper that is added to the dough which gives these cookies a very unique and flavorful touch.  The nuts part refers to their walnut-like shape.

In Germany you can find Pfeffernüsse in any grocery store throughout the holidays.

I have to admit, as popular as they are I’ve never cared for store-bought Pfeffernusse.  And so if you were to tell me you don’t like them either I would understand.

BUT…homemade is a totally different story.

Everything about homemade Pfeffernusse is better – the flavor, the texture.  In short, if like me you don’t like the store-bought stuff, give these a try – I think these German spice cookies will win you over!

pfeffernusse recipe traditional authentic German iced gingerbread cookies pfeffernüsse rezept

Pfeffernusse Recipe

Let’s get started!

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, Lebkuchengewürz, white pepper and almond meal. Set aside.

combining dry ingredients in bowl

Combine the brown sugar, honey, butter, and cream in a medium saucepan and heat, stirring frequently, until melted and the sugar is dissolved.

melting wet ingredients in saucepan

Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes.

stirring ingredients

Stir in the flour mixture.

adding flour

Stir in the egg until thoroughly combined.

adding egg

The dough will have a nice glossy sheen.  The dough will be very sticky and that’s how it should be.

stirring batter

Turn the mixture out onto some plastic wrap and wrap the dough tightly.  Refrigerate at a minimum overnight to allow the flavors time to develop, or for up to two days.

putting dough on counter

wrapping dough Remove the dough from the plastic wrap and immediately roll it into two strands, each 3/4 inch thick.

Slice the rolls into 3/4 inch thick rounds.

Roll each round into a ball (each ball should be about 3/4 inch large).  Work quickly while the dough is still chilled.

authentic german pfeffernuesse pfeffernüsse recipe iced gingerbread cookies

Place the cookie balls on a line cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

pfeffernuesse pfeffernüsse recipe authentic traditional german iced gingerbread cookies

authentic german pfeffernuesse pfeffernüsse recipe iced gingerbread cookies

Remove and let the cookies cool completely.

pfeffernusse recipe traditional authentic German iced gingerbread cookies pfeffernüsse rezept

To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and water until smooth.

making icing

Dip each cookie in the glaze, letting the excess drip off, and place them on a wire rack positioned over a cookie sheet (to catch the drips) and let them sit until the glaze is fully hardened.

pfeffernusse recipe traditional authentic German iced gingerbread cookies pfeffernüsse rezept

 pfeffernusse recipe traditional authentic German iced gingerbread cookies pfeffernüsse rezept

Store the cookies in airtight container in a cool place. Will keep for at least 2 weeks and the flavor only gets better over time.

Enjoy!

pfeffernusse recipe traditional authentic German iced gingerbread cookies pfeffernüsse rezept pfeffernuesse

For more delicious and authentic German Christmas goodies be sure to try our:

Originally published on The Daring Gourmet December 20, 2015

 

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