I’m not sure why Pfeffernusse cookies are relegated to the Christmas season, but they seem to be. They come from the German repertoire of cookies and the word pfeffernusse translates to “pepper nut”. While everyone seems to agree they have molasses, pepper and spices, just which spices seem to vary. I have seen recipes with nuts, lemon rind, candied fruit ,a list of spices a mile long, brown sugar, granulated sugar, molasses, honey or molasses and honey. However, this is the Pfeffernusse cookie I remember from the first time I tasted them and fell in love with their spicy, sweet flavor.
These Pfeffernusse cookies are like a fine wine – they need time to develop their flavor. As such plan ahead to give them at least a week, preferably several. If eaten when first baked, they are rather uninspiring. However, left in an airtight tin for a week or several weeks deepens the flavor and melds the spices so they are not so individual and sharp. The second flavor to all the spices is anise, a favorite German flavoring and one I love. I have seen recipes without it and if you are not an anise fan, substitute vanilla. Continue reading