Pfeffernüsse cookies (German for “peppernut”) are traditional German spiced cookies served during the holiday season. Infused with a cornucopia of warm baking spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and of course – a pinch of pepper, pfeffernüsse cookies are tossed in powdered sugar warm out of the oven for a holiday treat full of sugar, spice, and absolutely everything nice. When paired with the enchanting taste of roses in our Deviation dessert wine, the flavorful combination will send your senses to the stars. It’s a sweetly spiced match made in heaven – or maybe under the mistletoe.
This pfeffernüsse cookies recipe is a favorite of our team member Chloë, whose grandfather shared it with her:
I remember the very first time I took a bite of this spiced, sugary delight of a cookie! I was around the age of 9 years old at a Christmas party hosted by my grandparents. I loved the taste so much I tracked down my grandma to ask about the cookie, as I had never tried anything like it. I then discovered it was actually my papa who made the pfeffernüsse cookies, and it was my papa who made them as a special gift for me every year after (even as I grew into adulthood). When we were apart for the holidays, he still baked the pfeffernüsse and made sure I received my treasured cookies in the mail. And when the time came where my papa couldn’t do much baking anymore, he shared the recipe with me, and now I am so glad to pass it on to you in hopes that it becomes part of your own special holiday tradition.
This pfeffernüsse cookies recipe, as given to me by my papa, is extracted from a publication called Peppernuts, plain and fancy, a Christmas Tradition from Grandmother’s Oven and is titled: Mrs. J.H. Epp’s Old-Fashioned Peppernuts … I’ve simplified some of the instruction steps based on my own baking experiences, because who has time for extra complexity during the holidays?! (I promise the cookies still taste the same whether you cut the dough with a cold knife or roll it with your hands.) And to all of my plant-based friends out there, I have tried this recipe with plant-based substitutes you can find at the store, and to my great delight, the cookies are just as yummy as when my papa made them for me as a child. Pour yourself a glass of Deviation and enjoy!
½ cup butter (or vegan butter for non-dairy/plant-based option)
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg (plant-based options work great too)
½ cup heavy whipping cream (plant-based heavy cream works just as well)
2 tbsp. honey
1/3 cup white syrup
1 tsp. anise extract or ground powder
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cloves
½ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. allspice
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cream of tarter
¼ tsp. baking powder
4 cups flour
Beat butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add the egg and beat well.
Add whipping cream, honey, vanilla and syrup, and beat until thoroughly mixed.
In a separate bowl, sift flour with spices and other dry ingredients, stirring well to ensure all ingredients are evenly mixed.
Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Add the remaining half of dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Place the dough in a tightly sealed container and store in the refrigerator overnight. This helps the dough season and spices to blend.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease baking sheets and lightly dust kneading surface with flour.
Flouring hands, roll a portion of dough into a rope on kneading surface. Pull a section of dough from rope about the size of a quarter (or slightly smaller) and roll into a ball. Place on greased baking sheet and repeat, separating balls of dough about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. (For crunchier cookies, bake for an additional 2 to 3 minutes as desired.)
Remove from oven and place cookies on a wire rack to cool for several minutes. When cool enough to touch (but still warm), toss several cookies at a time into a bag of powdered sugar and shake until thoroughly coated with sugar.
(Note: Coating in sugar while warm helps ensure more of the sugar melds to the surface of the cookie!)
Place back on rack to finish cooling entirely.
To store, place a sheet of wax paper at the bottom of a cookie tin or plastic container, then place an even layer of cookies over the wax sheet. Continue process with a wax sheet between each layer and one over the top layer. This helps keep the cookies fresh and maintains their softness. You can also freeze them this way!
What makes Deviation dessert wine so different from other dessert wines? Deviation is an Orange Muscat wine infused with Rose Geranium and Damiana, making it untraditional as far as dessert wines go. (Some aperitif wines are infused with plants, but this is not usually the case with dessert wines, making ours a “deviation” from traditional norms. Hence the name!) Open a bottle and enjoy Deviation’s sweetness with someone special; Damiana was first used by the Mayans for its aphrodisiac properties, and remains popular in this day and age for luck in love. We’ll toast to that! It pairs beautifully with the flavoring in spiced desserts such as cookies and pies, cheeses and fruits.
Looking for more dessert recipes that pair well with Deviation? Try our Chocolate-Dipped Almond Macaroons and our English Toffee! And don’t forget to share your thoughts and your own pairings with us on social by tagging @quadywinery.