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Pfeffernüsse (German Spice Cookies)

Pfeffernüsse (German Spice Cookies)

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Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins, plus 1 hr chilling time

Makes: About 8 dozen (1-1/2-inch) cookies

Pfeffernüsse are one of the oldest of German cookies and an excellent addition to any Christmas cookie plate. Dunk them in coffee, tea, mulled cider, or hot chocolate. Or don’t dunk, just eat.

Game plan: You can bake the cookies ahead of time and freeze them for up to 2 months. When ready to serve, bring them to room temperature and roll in the spiced sugar.

This recipe was featured as part of our Holiday Cookies photo gallery.

Instructions

For the spiced sugar:

  1. 1Sift all ingredients together into a large bowl; set aside.

For the cookies:

  1. 1Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, salt, allspice, and pepper into a large bowl; set aside.
  2. 2Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and process until finely ground, about 25 to 30 seconds. Add the almonds to the flour mixture and stir to combine; set aside.
  3. 3Place the butter, lemon zest, and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until fluffy and combined, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until incorporated and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Add the egg and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds more. Add the honey and candied lemon or orange peel (or mixture thereof) and beat until just incorporated, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle with a rubber spatula.
  4. 4With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three additions, mixing until just combined, about 1 1/2 minutes total. (Do not overmix.) Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm, at least 1 hour.
  5. 5Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  6. 6Roll the chilled dough into 24 (3/4-inch) balls and space them 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies for 8 minutes, then rotate the sheets from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the cookies are very lightly browned around the edges, about 5 to 6 minutes more. (The tops will be soft, but they will firm up as the cookies stand.) Transfer the baking sheets to 2 wire racks and let the cookies sit until cool enough to handle but still warm, about 3 minutes.
  7. 7Drop the warm cookies into the spiced sugar, making sure to coat them all over, then shake off any excess sugar and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. 8Repeat baking and sugarcoating with the remaining dough. Store the cookies in an airtight container, layered between pieces of waxed paper, for up to 3 weeks.
  • Pfeffernüsse (German Spice Cookies)
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