Pfeffernüsse

Christmas is my favorite holiday, however, with all the commercialization (sales everywhere, and twisting my brain about Christmas gifts to family members), I easily lose focus.  Well, our house is all decked with Christmas tree and decorations we are gearing into Christmas countdowns! 

When I posted my  Panettone yesterday, that was my official start of Christmas baking.  However, due to my nervousness regarding how my first Panettone turns out I don’t think I fully enjoyed it.  I intend to bake another one and enjoy it then! 

Today, I made my pfeffernüsse.  I’ve made this few times in the past with much success.  Pfeffernüsse (plural) are German spice cookies; aside from typical holiday spices we put in black/white pepper which gives this cookie a very warm, mild and spicy taste.  Scandinavian countries have their own versions of similar spice cookies, but I will not even attempt to spell their names here.  My late in-laws have gone to Germany many times and my late father-in-law have enjoyed these cookies when I baked in the past.  This recipe comes from Saveur from their 2006 issue!!  Pfeffernüsse I made are brushed with rum sugar glaze and decorated with candied lemon peels, however, others like to dust these delicacies in powdered sugar.  Whatever fancies your taste, these are great Christmas “cookies”. 

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MAKES 3 DOZEN
1⁄2 cup honey
1⁄3 cup unsulfured molasses
2 tbsp. butter
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1⁄2 cup candied lemon peel, finely chopped
1⁄3 cup almonds, finely ground
3⁄4 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon
3⁄4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3⁄4 tsp. freshly ground cloves
3⁄4 tsp. freshly ground cardamom
1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1–2 tbsp. light rum     

**Please keep in mind the dough has to rest in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight, so prepare in advance!


1. Put honey, molasses, and butter into a small pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until hot, 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Add eggs and whisk to combine. Put flour, half the lemon peel, almonds, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, cardamom, and baking powder into a large bowl and stir to combine. Add honey mixture and beat with a wooden spoon until well combined, to form a dough. Cover surface of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Lightly oil your palms with some of the oil. Form dough into 36 balls, each about 1″ wide (the dough will be very sticky, so keep your hands lightly oiled while working). Divide dough balls between baking sheets, keeping them spaced 1″ apart.
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Bake until slightly cracked on top and just firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool slightly.

3. Meanwhile, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, rum, and 5 tsp. hot water to make a smooth glaze. While cookies are still warm, use a pastry brush to coat each one with a layer of glaze. While the surfaces of the cookies are still moist with glaze, garnish each top with pieces of the remaining lemon peel.
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Set cookies aside to let cool completely. Eat right away or store in an airtight container, layered between sheets of waxed paper, for up to one week.

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My opinion:  Truly tastes like Christmas! When you bite into it, you taste  cinnamon, cloves and ginger first, then the rum sugar mixed with lemon, and finally you taste the slight black pepper! 

Great homemade gifts and cookie swap recipe!!  We keep on going back to the cookie container and popping these into our mouths!!  Dangerous!!

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