Now, it’s officially Christmas.

posted on: Saturday, December 10, 2011

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I was reminded of a story recently about a trip to the grocery store with my grandma when I was a little girl. It was December and I was probably about seven or eight years old. I remember walking through the aisles and stopping at a box of cookies with a name I couldn’t even try and pronounce. My grandmother told me it was pfeffernusse, a traditional German spiced cookie.

A little back story, my grandmother was actually born in Germany, but doesn’t really talk about her time there. See, my grandmother is Jewish and was just a child when WWII began. She was able to escape with my great-grandmother and a few relatives, but I don’t know much else about her time there. So, when she tells me any bit of her German heritage or traditions, I hold onto it.

She picked the box of pfeffernusse up in her hand and smiled. Turning to me she said “Christmas doesn’t start until you’ve had pfeffernusse.” That always stuck with me throughout the years. So, when I spotted a box of those german spiced cookies in the aisles of Trader Joe’s a couple of weeks ago, I knew I had to have a box. Tonight we opened them up and with a mug of honey chamomile tea, I enjoyed two delicious cookies. Now, it’s officially Christmas.

  • Lovely story.

  • How sweet! Enjoy!

  • My family gets a box of those cookies every year as well! They are DELICIOUS but hard to find. ENJOY:)

  • LOVELY story, Katy!

  • Thank you. :)

  • Thank you, they’re delicious!

  • They are so good, but I couldn’t find them at TJ’s my last trip! Sad! I hope they show up again before Christmas.

  • Thank you, sweet Heather!

  • Yup. She says that every year. I guess I know what cookie you’ll be baking next.

    Did you know it means ‘pepper-nuts’?

    Here is a good recipe;

    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 tsp kosher salt
    1/2 cup (1 stick) 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


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the confectioners’ sugar in a brown paper bag.
    2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and baking soda & salt. Set aside.
    3. 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.)
    4. 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.

    They actually develop a better texture with a day or two of age.

  • San

    TJ’s has them now! Sorry for being a smart-ass, but being German, I have to correct… it’s “Pfeffernüsse” (and it literally means “pepper nuts”).
    So christmassy :)

  • Thanks, San. I actually spelled it right, just unsure where the option is to type the u correctly. :) They are delish! TJ’s had them, that’s where I got mine, but they were out of them when I went back. Sad!