This time of the year is very much about cinnamon, ginger, cloves.. yes, that set of spices which help make the famous gingerbread cookies and biscuits – and gingerbread man, gingerbread house, gingerbread everything. You can easily make those by buying the ready dough from the freezer section in the supermarkets, but if you want to try something from scratch, this recipe is for you.
Pfeffernüsse are spicy cookies commonly found in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. They are small (my version is 15 grams each), they have a list of spices in them and they are sweetened with honey and molasses. In the version I adapted from (and in traditional version), on La Fuji Mama blog, there is also anise. However, I do not like anise so I simply did not put it! If you would like to add it, 2 teaspoons of anise extract is enough.
These tiny cookies are slightly sticky and chewy. For me they are already sweet enough, so I like them plain, but if you want to make them sweeter, you can always dust with powdered sugar.
Baking these at home and eating with your friends, or giving them as Christmas gifts are great ideas! Especially when it is cold and dark outside and you want to create a cosy environment inside your apartment! Enjoy!
Difficulty: ★★☆ (medium)
(makes 75 cookies – 15 grams each cookie)
1/2 cup / 1 dl+ 1 tbsp+ 1 tsp molasses (I used grape molasses)
1/4 cup / 4tbsp honey
1/2 cup / 1 dl+ 1 tbsp+ 1 tsp / 113 gr. butter
4 cups / 9 dl+ 4 tbsp white flour
3/4 cup / 1 dl+ 5 tbsp+ 1 tsp white sugar
1/2 cup / 1 dl+ 1 tbsp+ 1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground black pepper (preferably freshly ground)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp anise extract (if you like anise flavour)
Powdered sugar for coating
1. Put butter, molasses and honey in a small pot and heat them by continuously stirring / whisking, until all butter melts and the mixture becomes creamy. When it’s done, pour the cream into a shallow plate and cool down to room temperature.
2. Into a mixing bowl, sift flour, white and brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, all the spices and salt – that means, sift all the DRY ingredients.
3. When the creamy molasses mixture cools down to room temperature, beat 2 eggs lightly in a small bowl and add the beaten eggs to molasses mixture by whisking.
4. Start beating your sifted dry ingredients. After a minute, add molasses mixture slowly while the mixer is still working. Continue beating until the mixture becomes a thick, slightly hard dough.
5. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and cover with stretch film. Put in the fridge for about 1 hour to chill.
6. Once the dough is chilled, take it out of the oven. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 170C.
7. Take about a teaspoon from the dough, turn into a ball and put on the oven tray with baking sheet on. If you chilled them enough, they won’t spread much, but still place each about 2 cm apart from each other. I made my cookies to weigh 15 grams each. Bake in the middle section of your oven for about 15 minutes – until cookies are not shiny anymore and are still soft but slightly firm. Once done, take them out of the oven and transfer to a wire rack using a spatula. If you want to coat with powdered sugar, let them cool completely before you roll in powdered sugar bed. The cookies taste better once aged so I advice you to bake them at least one day earlier.