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Practical Baker
Traditional German Christmas Cookies (pfeffernusse)
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 • Posted December 5, 2013

I've heard that there are one or two families of German descent living in the Mason area, so when I came upon this recipe, I thought it might fit rather nicely. First of all, though, I understand that is really a Dutch, rather than German recipe. Secondly, it is NOT the typical Practical Baker recipe. It has too many ingredients, requires too much time and planning, and requires the baker to jump through a bunch of hoops in order to bring these baked goods to the table. But I tried it anyway, and the response from my taste testers has been overwhelmingly positive.


½ cup molasses

¼ cup honey

¼ cup shortening

¼ cup margarine (I used unsalted butter)

2 eggs

4 cups all purpose flour

¾ cup white sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom (I had to buy this expensive herb in Brady, at the Walmart)

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons anise extract (some folks may prefer less of this, 'cause it is strong!)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup confectioner's sugar for dusting the tops of the cookies


Stir together the molasses, honey, shortening and margarine in a small sauce pan; cook until well blended and creamy. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the eggs after it is cool.

Combine 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 combined. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325. Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls. Arrange on a cookie sheet, spacing at least an inch apart.

Bake for 10-15 minutes; the tops will begin to crack, and that's what you're looking for. Move to a wire rack to cool. Dust cooled cookies with confectioner's sugar. (I dusted a batch when they first came out of the oven; the sugar stuck a bit better and didn't change the taste.)

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