Pfeffernusse is a delicious German cookie, not a made up word

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  While Christmas has passed, New Year’s Eve is still a few days away, so there is still plenty of baking and cooking before January’s austerity kicks in.

I love pfeffernusse, a traditional German holiday cookie and have been taking this around all season as I visit friends and family.  Pfeffernusse is akin to gingerbread cookies, only slightly spicier and easier to make in a time crunch.

Pfeffernusse literally translates to pepper nuts.  Many recipes incorporate nuts, especially almond flour.  Nuts aren’t essential to the recipe, plenty of variations omit them.

Any gluten-free flour blend should work instead of making your own for this recipe, though I do think the blend below has great flavor and texture.   Unlike many gingerbread cookies that need to be rolled out where the gluten factor is really important, these are simply rolled in the palms of your hand.
2 ¼ cups flour * see flour blend below
1 t xanthan gum or guar gum
¾ t cinnamon
½ t each ginger, black pepper, allspice
¼ t each clove, nutmeg, anise
½ t salt
½ t baking soda
1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 t vanilla
1 egg
¼ cup molasses

For the spiced powdered sugar:
1 cup powdered sugar
½ t cinnamon
½ t ginger
¼ t allspice

1. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of your mixer.  Add the egg, molasses and vanilla until well incorporated.  Add in your flour with the mixer on low to avoid flour blowing all over the kitchen.  When the flour is pretty well incorporated, take the speed up to high for a minute or two, until the batter is smooth and creamy.

The dough should be firm before you start baking.

The dough should be firm before you start baking.

2. Refrigerate for 2 or more hours, I usually leave it overnight.  If this is a last minute holiday thing, you can probably freeze it for about 30 minutes before the dough becomes frozen.  The real purpose is just to get the dough firm enough to roll between the palms of your hand and keep the dough from spreading too much when you bake it.  P1000922-2
3. Preheat your oven to 350°F/ 180°C.  Roll balls of about 2 teaspoons in the palms of your hand.  Place about an inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a silpat.  P1000924-2
4. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until firm.  Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for a few minutes before you remove them to a cooling rack.  While the cookies are baking, making the spiced powdered sugar by whisking together the remaining spices and powdered sugar.P1000926-2
5. Let the cookies cool for another 5 minutes or so.  While they are still warm (but not too hot to handle) toss them in powdered sugar.  I just roll them in a bowl, but some folks prefer to put them in a ziploc and shake the bag, like a shake and bake pork chop.P1000928-2
Voila!  Tasty holiday cookies!
*Flour blend
This makes 3 cups of gluten-free flour.  I either double it and save the extra for a future recipe or put the extra in a little container for breading / coating pans, thickening soups/sauces, etc….
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup almond flour (if you don’t have this, brown rice flour works well)
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup millet
2/3 cup potato starch (tapioca or corn starch will also be fine)
1/3 cup arrowroot


6 thoughts on “Pfeffernusse is a delicious German cookie, not a made up word

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