Pfeffernusse; a traditional cookie comes back


This year I simplified things for Christmas. We sent out fewer cards, put out only the decorations our family loves, and dropped a lot of my favorite traditional foods for reasons of health (do we need 12 types of cookies?) and time. We kept two types of cookies though; gingerbread men because the kids love them, and pfeffernusse (I say peppernuts) because they bring back sweet memories of making them with my grandma when I was little.  At the time I enjoyed making them more than eating them; why take a low-sugar, bite-size cookie when you are surrounded by an array of decadent sweets? Now as an adult I kind of prefer them. Really.  So much that we named our dog after them.

Besides being tasty, these tiny little gems are packed with healthy spices like ginger and cloves, and they are perfectly portion controlled so I can eat one bite or grab a handful, depending on the mood.  They are also the perfect cookie to make with kids, especially kids like mine who like to play with the dough.


blending up the dry ingredients
whisking the dry ingredients

First step: Pour into a large mixing bowl

2 cups whole grain white wheat flour
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash of cloves
and stir well with a whisk.

Next, beat the wet ingredients until well-blended:

either use the measuring cup for oil THEN molasses, or spray your cup with cooking spray; otherwise the molasses sticks like crazy to the cup.

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1 egg

Now mix the wet and dry together, beating slowly.  The dough is thick!

pour wet into dry ingredients and blend
all blended up!

Now roll up the dough into a nice little ball, cover in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for a couple hours.

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then roll out the dough until it is in little logs about the width of your thumb.

rolling out the dough

Now slice the logs (we just use butter knives) into even-sized little bites. They look a bit like tootsie rolls cut in half at this point.

cutting into little square “pillows”

Now put those little bite-size wonders on a cookie sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on how crunchy or soft you like them.
After they cool, put 1/4 cup powdered sugar in a bag and shake them up to coat them in a fine dusting of sweetness.