I come from a part of Michigan where lots of German families settled in the mid-1800s, so a lot of the traditional Christmas cookies I remember receiving as a kid are of German origin. These Pfeffernusse cookies aren’t from my family’s tradition, but they’re pretty good. These are more peppery than some folks might like. Although a lot of Pfeffernusse recipes out there call for black pepper, I was advised by some people whose grandmothers were German that white pepper was more authentic (and to double the amount in most recipes). Since I was out of white pepper, and my go-to place for buying pepper is Eden Center, I recently found myself in a Vietnamese shopping center buying, among other things, ingredients for a German cookie, and I thought “damn, I love my country.”
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 1/4 cup margarine
- 2 eggs
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons anise extract
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar for dusting
- Stir together the molasses, honey, shortening, and margarine in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until creamy. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the eggs.
- Combine the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, anise, cinnamon, baking soda, pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Add the molasses mixture and stir until thoroughly combines. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Roll the dough into acorn-sized balls. Arrange on baking sheets, spacing at least 1 inch apart.
- Bake in preheated oven 10 to 15 minutes. Move to a rack to cool. Dust cooled cookies with confectioners’ sugar.