Pfeffernusse have become part of my Christmas tradition. I first tried them a few years ago when an American friend made them in Peru (thanks Maureen!). They taste like extra spicey gingerbread & have a lovely chewy texture.
Last year I was in England & made them to sell at Becky’s Christmas Pretty Dandy Flea Market along with many jars of tomato chutney. They went down a storm & I sold out quickly. This year I find myself making them in Goa.
I am working with Mona’s Pantry who make artisan desserts and pastries. This Saturday we will have a stall at a local Christmas Fair, so I have made over 100 Pfeffernusse in the last few days. I think Indian people are going to love them as they eat so many spices.
The recipe comes from Northern Europe & they are popular in Germany at Christmas. There are lots of versions of the recipe online & they mainly change the spice mixtures. It is essential to put cinnamon, ginger, anise & pepper. This recipe I took from the internet & added more spices -I can’t help myself!
Pfeffernusse are easy to make and last for weeks. In fact they mature & the flavour & textures change over time. I love them when they first come out of the oven & even 3-4 weeks later they are still good. After a couple of weeks they become softer & the spices taste different – deeper. This makes them an ideal Christmas stocking filler as they do not go off as quickly as most baked goods.
I have tried the recipe a number of ways, changing sugars, molasses for jaggery, different spice mixes. I can honestly say they were great every time so dont worry too much about the ingredients just get as many as you can. If you use whole spices make sure to toast them well. The pepper is a really important spice for me in this mixture as it gives a satisfying heat which lasts on the tongue so grind it fresh if you can. Regular readers know we are huge fans of cardamom, so we’ve included that too.
- 170g molasses
- 85g honey
- 220g butter or marg
- 250g sugar (golden or brown is best but white works fine)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1.5 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 2 tsp anise extract or ground anise seeds
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1.5 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 500g plain flour
- 2tsp baking powder
1. Melt together the molasses, honey, butter, & sugar. Leave to cool a little.
2. Prepare the spices. If you have whole spices make sure to toast them well before grinding. I like to use whole spices and prepare them myself but it is time consuming. At least make sure to use freshly ground black pepper as it adds a delicious heat to the cookie.
5. Cover & leave in the fridge for a couple of hours. The mixture needs to cool & harden before it can be easily rolled into cookies. A tip to make them all the same size is to pack the mixture into a measuring spoon before rolling.
6. Pre heat the oven to 170 degrees and prepare some baking sheets. Either grease them lightly or use parchment paper.
7. Roll small balls of dough – I use about a tablespoon of mixture & place them on the baking sheets. Leave a good inch between each one.
8. Bake for about 15 minutes. They will spread a little bit & be firm to the touch when ready.
9. Cool them & toss in icing sugar or decorate them. Store in an airtight container.