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How to Bake German Pfeffernüsse

I really enjoy baking tasty treats that my entire family can eat.

How to Make German Pfeffernüsse

Do you know the entertaining rule that says never to try a new recipe for your guests? I can't help but break this rule because I always spring something new on my unsuspecting guests. The other day, I spotted small spice cookies called German Pfeffernüsse in a supermarket, and it immediately took me back to my childhood.

"Pfeffernüsse" means "pepper nuts" in German, hence the ground black pepper and almonds in the recipe. Make sure not to confuse these cookies with Russian tea cakes, as they look quite similar. My mother makes these every year, and I was determined to try them out for Christmas. I hope you enjoy making these!

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Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

30 min

20 min

50 min

100 cookies


  • 125 grams butter or margarine, soft
  • 1 /2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup treacle/molasses
  • 1/4 tsp oil of anise
  • 4 large eggs, beaten well
  • 1 lemon rind, finely grated
  • 1 cup almonds, ground
  • 6 cups flour
  • 15 ml baking powder
  • 5 ml baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch milled black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 4 drops lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp hot water


  1. Sift the following ingredients into the flour: baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, mixed spice, ground nutmeg, black peppercorns, and ground cloves.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Next, add the following ingredients one at a time until each one is thoroughly incorporated: (slightly heated) molasses, anise oil, beaten eggs, ground almonds, lemon rind, and flour. Mix it well to form a dough.
  3. Form the dough into a ball and refrigerate it for a few hours.
  4. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll them into walnut-sized balls. Place the balls on greased baking trays and cover them. Let them rest overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (320 degrees Fahrenheit). Bake the biscuits for 12–15 minutes. The bottom should be brown and the top firm and round. Let it cool completely.
  6. To make the icing, mix the icing sugar, lemon juice, and hot water together. You should have a thick, creamy consistency. Don't add all of the water at once. Add a few teaspoons and increase the amount only as necessary—a little goes a long way.
  7. Dip the top of the biscuits into the icing and allow it to set.
  8. The biscuits from this recipe last a while. The longer you wait, the tastier and softer they will become. My mother says they also freeze well, so you can make this ahead for a party or special event!

© 2011 Caroline

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