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Pfeffernüsse German spice cookies

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  • Nut free
  • Peanut free
  • Sesame free
  • Soy free
  • Shellfish free
  • Seafood free
  • Vegetarian

Spiced, iced and altogether nice, pfeffernüsse are the perfect cookie for the Christmas season. Make these bite sized treats part of your festive season.

  • Makes30
  • Cook time25 minutes
  • Prep time30 minutes, + 1 hour drying time & 1 hour chilling time
Pfeffernusse

Ingredients

  • 50g butter
  • 1/2 cup (110g) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) treacle
  • 1 free range egg
  • 2 cups (300g) plain flour
  • 1/2 cup (75g) self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 1/2 cups (400g) pure icing sugar

Nutritional information

Per serve: Energy: 592kJ/142 Cals (7%), Protein: 2g (4%), Fat: 2g (3%), Sat Fat: 1g (4%), Sodium: 54mg (3%), Carb: 30g (10%), Sugar: 21g (23%), Dietary Fibre: 0.4g (1%).

Check ingredient labels to make sure they meet your specific dietary requirements and always consult a health professional before changing your diet. View dietary information here.

Percentage Daily Intake information on our recipes is calculated using the nutrition reference values for an average Australian adult.

Method

  1. Step 1

    Combine the butter, brown sugar and treacle in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 mins or until butter melts and mixture is smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Set aside for 10 mins to cool. Add the egg and stir to combine.

  2. Step 2

    Add the combined flours, ginger, mixed spice, cloves, pepper and bicarbonate of soda and stir until well combined. Use clean hands to bring the dough together into a large smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour to rest.

  3. Step 3

    Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper. Roll level tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and divide evenly between the lined trays. Flatten slightly with the ball of your finger. Bake for 10-12 mins or until pale golden. Set aside on the trays to cool completely.

  4. Step 4

    Place a large wire rack over a large baking tray with a rim. Place the cookies on the rack. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup (60ml) hot water to the icing sugar and stir until smooth and well combined. Stir in an extra 3 tsp of hot water. Working with 1 cookie at a time, use a dessert spoon to spoon icing over the top, allowing it to drip down and cover the sides. Set aside for 1 hour or until set and dry.

Recipe tip

COOK. STORE. SAVE.
Clever storage:
Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. 

Use it up: Want to extend the shelf life of your flour? Transfer the flour to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Try a delightfully spiced German pfeffernüsse this season

Filled with warm spices and coated with sweet icing, these ginger delights have been a Christmas favourite in Germany for hundreds of years. Translating to ‘pepper nuts’, the use of pepper (white or black) sets these soft and chewy cookies apart from other spiced treats. While associated with savoury cooking, the pepper gives a punchy note balanced by the sweet flavours and icing sugar coating. Because of their petite size and festive appearance, German spiced Christmas cookies make a lovely edible gift. Remember to keep some for yourself! For more gift ideas try our almond and cherry cookies or plum pudding truffles

Pfeffernüsse main ingredients you will need

You can use salted or unsalted butter when baking – salted butter results in a deeper flavour, or you can use unsalted butter and add a pinch of salt to season the mixture. Either way, make sure your butter and spices are fresh and do a six-monthly check of your herbs and spices to ensure they are not out-of-date. Also, check the use-by dates of your self-raising flour and bicarbonate of soda. These ingredients are responsible for the signature domed tops of the cookies. 

Why you need to rest the cookie dough

Our German spice cookies recipe involves a simple melt-and-mix technique. You need to cool the melted ingredients before adding the eggs to prevent them from starting to cook and curdle. After the dough is combined, it needs a good rest in the fridge for at least half an hour for the gluten to relax and the spices to permeate the dough. It also ensures the mixture will be chilled enough for the cookies to hold their shape while baking. Use a tablespoon measure to scoop even-sized pieces from the dough, then roll between your palms until smooth. Place the cookies approximately 3cm apart on a baking tray to allow some room for them to spread. 

How to ice pfeffernüsse cookies 

Occasionally tossed in pure icing sugar to coat, we top them with a thick glacé icing. We recommend using pure icing sugar rather than icing sugar mixture. Once the sugar has been sifted, add the water gradually, stirring as you go. (You may not need the extra three teaspoons of hot water.) To check if the glaze is thick enough, take a teaspoonful from the bowl and drizzle it back over the glaze. If it leaves a trail, it’s thick enough. Now the German spiced cookies are ready to ice! For more recipes and inspiration, check out our collection of edible gift ideas. 

FAQs

Pfeffernüsse German spice cookies

Pfeffernüsse German spice cookies
  • Makes30
  • Cook time25 minutes
  • Prep time30 minutes, + 1 hour drying time & 1 hour chilling time
Ingredients
  • 50g butter
  • 1/2 cup (110g) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) treacle
  • 1 free range egg
  • 2 cups (300g) plain flour
  • 1/2 cup (75g) self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 1/2 cups (400g) pure icing sugar
    Description

    Spiced, iced and altogether nice, pfeffernüsse are the perfect cookie for the Christmas season. Make these bite sized treats part of your festive season.

    Method
    1. Step 1

      Combine the butter, brown sugar and treacle in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 mins or until butter melts and mixture is smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Set aside for 10 mins to cool. Add the egg and stir to combine.

    2. Step 2

      Add the combined flours, ginger, mixed spice, cloves, pepper and bicarbonate of soda and stir until well combined. Use clean hands to bring the dough together into a large smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour to rest.

    3. Step 3

      Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper. Roll level tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and divide evenly between the lined trays. Flatten slightly with the ball of your finger. Bake for 10-12 mins or until pale golden. Set aside on the trays to cool completely.

    4. Step 4

      Place a large wire rack over a large baking tray with a rim. Place the cookies on the rack. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup (60ml) hot water to the icing sugar and stir until smooth and well combined. Stir in an extra 3 tsp of hot water. Working with 1 cookie at a time, use a dessert spoon to spoon icing over the top, allowing it to drip down and cover the sides. Set aside for 1 hour or until set and dry.