Pfeffernusse Cookies

German Pfeffernüsse Cookies
Recipe courtesy of Kitchen Riffs (This family recipe… let’s just say it goes back to the 19th century at least.  It originated in Germany (where my mother’s ancestors came from). 
Pfeffernüsse can be translated as “pepper nuts.” A few recipes actually include almonds or walnuts (though most don’t). Virtually all Pfeffernüsse recipes include cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. Some recipes call for lemon zest, candied citrus, or spirits (usually brandy or rum). In this recipe, the predominant flavor is anise.
This recipe yields about 9 dozen cookies, depending on how big you make them — and how much dough you eat in the process. Pfeffernüsse will store well in airtight containers at room temperature. You can also freeze them
•1 cup butter
•1 cup sugar
• 2 large eggs
•½ cup white corn syrup
•½ cup molasses
•4 – 5 tablespoons anise seed
•1 teaspoon cinnamon
•½ teaspoon allspice
•½ teaspoon cloves
•½ teaspoon nutmeg
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•1/3 cup warm water (from the tap, or microwaved for a few seconds)
• 6½ cups flour
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and place rack in center of the oven.
2. Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl that is large enough to hold all ingredients (a stand mixer like a Kitchen Aid is ideal for this, although you can also use a hand mixer — or even beat the ingredients by hand, if you are particularly energetic).
3. Add the following ingredients one at a time, beating after each addition to incorporate:  eggs, corn syrup, molasses, anise seed, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg.
4. Dissolve baking soda in warm water, add to mixture, and beat again.
Add flour, and beat mixture until all ingredients are well incorporated.  The dough should be somewhat stiff.
5. Take a handful of dough and roll it into a long cylindrical sausage shape about one inch in diameter.  Repeat until you’ve formed all the dough into cylinders.
6. Optional step:  Wrap the dough cylinders in wax paper or cling wrap and refrigerate them for half an hour or longer (even overnight) before continuing with the recipe.  Chilling the dough makes it easier to handle, but you can skip this step if you’re in a hurry.
7. Cut one-inch pieces of dough from the cylinders and roll the pieces into small balls.  Place dough balls on baking sheets that have been lined with silicone baking mats or parchment paper (you can also use greased cookie sheets).  It’s probably easiest to roll enough dough balls to fill one baking sheet, then start baking while you roll more.
8. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  The cookies are done when baked through and starting to brown on top.
9. Roll cookies in powdered sugar while still warm.  (You can do this when the cookies are cold, but the powdered sugar sticks a bit better when the cookies are fresh from the oven.)
10. Store cookies in an airtight container.
Spice quantities are somewhat elastic.  You can alter measurements to suit your taste.  Adding a bit more anise seed and cinnamon can work well.
Pfeffernüsse will keep up to 8 weeks when stored in airtight containers — although you’ll undoubtedly eat them long before then!
Pfeffernüsse are quite soft when first baked, but quickly become harder. When Pfeffernüsse are in their “hard” stage, they make a particularly good dunking cookie.  They go great with hot tea or milk.  And the dunking helps soften them.
Thank you, Skeen! 🙂