Pfeffernusse Cookies

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Pfeffernusse Cookies—This was my great grandfather’s recipe (Jacob Landwehrle). He was a baker in New York City, originally from Germany.


1 stick of unsalted butter

¾ cup light brown sugar

1 large egg

½ cup molasses

3 cups flour

¾ tsp salt

1 ½ tsp aniseed

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp nutmeg

¾ tsp baking soda

2 tsp hot water



1 cup sugar

½ cup water

2 cups confectioner sugar


Beat butter with electric mixer until smooth. Beat in brown sugar, egg, and molasses.

Stir 1 ½ cup flour, salt, and spices in a separate bowl, then beat into molasses mixture. Dissolve baking soda in hot water and beat into batter with remaining flour. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, for at least 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll level teaspoons of dough into balls and arrange 1 ½ inches apart on greased baking sheets. Bake in batches in middle of oven until puffed, 10-14 minutes.

Make coating:

Bring granulated sugar and water to a boil. Cool completely. Put syrup in shallow bowl. Place sheets of wax paper under racks. Dip cooled cookies, one at a time, in syrup to coat and return to racks to drain. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

Sift confectioner sugar and put in brown bag or gallon size plastic bag. Shake a few cookies at a time in bag to coat, then brush off excess sugar lightly with fingers.

These cookies freeze well.