pfeffernussenMy Christmas baking usually includes a few cookies.  This year, my selection features a spicy German treat called Pfeffernussen.  I stumbled upon this recipe in my Martha Stewart Cookies baking book.  I immediately jotted it down as a choice for Christmas – spicy flavours are perfect at Christmas time.

Pfeffernussen means ‘pepper nut’ in German.  This cookie features pepper (but no nuts!), and a range of spices such as cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg and cloves.  The light sugary coating of the cookie complements the peppery flavour deliciously. 

These have to be one of the easiest cookies to make.  The dough does not require any real special handling or refrigeration.  Just mix it up, pop on baking trays, and you are done.

They are incredibly airy and light, and have a beautiful peppery flavour.  They taste like an ‘adult’ gingerbread coffee (just with a little more bite!).  Enjoy.

{ Pfeffernussen }

Makes 3 dozen

* Ingredients *
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

* Directions *
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the confectioners’ sugar in a brown paper bag.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and baking soda. Set aside.
Place butter, brown sugar, and molasses in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture; beat until just combined. Pinch off dough in tablespoon amounts; roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. Arrange balls 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. (Dough can be frozen at this point, covered tightly with plastic wrap, up to 1 month.)
Bake until cookies are golden and firm to the touch with slight cracking, about 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer sheets to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Working in batches, place cookies in paper bag; shake until well coated. Let cool completely on wire rack. Store in an airtight container.