Pfeffernusse, or “peppernuts,” are little balls of holiday cheer that originated in Germany. It’s believed their name comes from the whole spices that are ground into powder to flavor the dough since traditional Pfeffernusse don’t contain nuts, despite the name.



Makes about 36 cookies


  • cups (281 grams) all-purpose flour
  • teaspoons (3 grams) ground ginger
  • teaspoons (3 grams) ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • cup (75 grams) unsalted butter
  • cup (73 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (63 grams) unsulphured molasses
  • 3 tablespoons (63 grams) honey
  • 1 large egg(50 grams), room temperature and lightly beaten
  • cups (180 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) hot water (140°F/60°C to 150°F/66°C)


  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, cardamom, nutmeg, pepper, and cloves.
  • in a medium saucepan, cook butter, brown sugar, molasses, and honey over medium heat, stirring frequently, until butter is melted, sugar dissolves, and bubbles form around sides of pan. Remove from heat, and pour mixture into a large heatproof bowl. Carefully stir in flour mixture until almost combined. Stir in egg until combined (Mixture will be very soft and shiny.) Turn out dough onto plastic wrap, and flatten into a 6-inch square (about ¾ inch thick). Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Cut dough into 1-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 1-inch pieces (about 16 grams each). Roll each piece into a ball. Place 1 inch apart on prepared pans.
  • Bake until set and edges are lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on pans for 5 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Place a wire rack on a sheet of parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons (30 grams) hot water until smooth. Dip top of each cookie in glaze, and place on prepared rack, letting excess glaze drip off. Let stand until glaze is set, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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