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Pfeffernusse Is A Cookie. A Variant Of German Lebkuchen, Or Gingerbread

December 23rd is reserved for this German spice cookie.  It is National Pfeffernusse Day.

Very popular around the holidays, pfeffernusse are fluffy cookies made with ground nuts and spices and covered in powdered sugar.

  • The exact origin in unknown however the Dutch believe that pfeffernusse (or pepernoten) are linked to the feast of Sinterklaas, which is celebrated on December 5 in the Netherlands and December 6 in Germany and Belgium.  This holiday is when children receive gifts from St. Nicholas, who is partially the inspiration for the Santa Claus tradition.
  • Pfeffernusse is a variant of German Lebkuchen, or gingerbread.
  • Pferffernusse cookies differ from regular German gingerbread is that they are rolled into balls and then glazed with powdered sugar after baking.
  • Pferffernusse literally means “pepper”.
  • A traditional Pfeffernusse cookie will be too hard to eat without dipping in liquid for the first few days.
  • The cookies do soften with age and more modern recipe adaptations have been made to make them soft from the start.
  • If you were curious, the pronunciation is:
  • Though recipes differ, all contain cinnamon, cloves, mace, nutmeg, cardamom, and anise. Some variations include powdered sugar. Molasses and honey are used to sweeten the cookies.
  • In Germany, the pfeffernüsse is more closely associated with Christmas. The biscuit has been part of European yuletide celebrations since the 1850s.
  • ‘Pfeffernüsse’ are also known as ‘peppernødders’, ‘pfeffernusse’, ‘peppernuts’ and ‘pebernødder’.
  • Pfeffernüsse are typically ginger-coloured, with a snowy white coating, and home made cookies are best left to develop their flavours and soften for a few days before being eaten.
  • Pfeffernüsse are among the biscuits with the least amount of fat, as they generally lack butter and oil, although recipes vary greatly, and some do use butter.
  • Pfeffernüsse are generally shaped as round balls or drops, and can be often purchased from supermarkets and other shops, although these are usually soft cookies.


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