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Pfeffernusse cookies are very popular during the holidays. These spicy German Christmas cookies or “peppernuts” are actually made with black pepper in the recipe and rolled in powdered sugar.  The cookies should be stored in an airtight container for several days before eating until they soften.  They are soft when removed from the oven,  get hard as they cool off and then soften again over time.


1/2 cup molasses (I used sorghum molasses)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons anise extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon allspice, ground
1 cup confectionery sugar (more if needed) 
Combine butter, honey and molasses in a pot and melt over low heat on the stove. Do not boil!  Remove from heat and let cool. Beat eggs and anise extract together and stir into honey mixture.  In a large mixing bowl add the flour, sugars, spices and salt and mix together well with a spoon. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir till makes a stiff dough.  Chill about 3 hours in the refrigerator.  Remove from refrigerator and roll into small balls with your hands or you can cut some of the dough with cookie cutters.  (I did some both ways. I made some bite sized ones for my grandson and several different sizes) The dough is easy to work once it comes out of the fridge. Place on sprayed or greased cookie sheets.  Bake in preheated 325 degree oven  15 minutes. 
Remove from pan and let cool.  Roll in confectionery sugar.  Store in airtight container and allow to sit for a couple days before serving.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies depending on size you make them.  You will love these with a cup of coffee in the mornings or for a snack anytime!
If you like this recipe, you might also like my recipe for Old-Fashioned Soft Molasses Cookies.
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  1. Can I replace the cardamom with anything? Im having a hard time locating any. Thanks

  2. They look perfect, very similar to how I remember them.

  3. Margaret Cloud says:

    These are my favorite cookie, but never knew what was in them. I have to ask, what is cardamom? Have a nice week.

    • Hi Margaret. Cardamom is a spice that is kind of gingery tasting. It comes from India and is kind of expensive compared to most spices. I buy mine at an Amish bulk food store because I can get it cheaper there. Judy

      • I just paid $12.48 for a jar of McCormick’s ground cardamom, but while we were standing in the isle in the grocery store I had my husband call his buddy who works for McCormick to ask if he had any, but no such luck.

  4. Amazing to see a cookie recipe with black pepper in it, Judy! I do love a spicy cookie—these look good.

    Looking at all the cookies in your sidebar is making me hungry. I wish I could have been at your house this week while you were making all those cookies! 🙂

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