Chocolate Pfeffernüße

Chocolate PfeffernuesseThis is a slightly non-traditional take on a traditional German Christmas cookie. If you want them ready to eat by Christmas, make them now. Like many German baked goods, they are meant to be aged, in this case 3 or 4 weeks, before being eaten.

Pfefernüße means pepper-nut, and while there isn’t necessarily pepper in them (though there can be) there are a lot of spices, along with some candied peel and nuts. Personally, I like to substitute pumpkin seeds for the nuts, and, although they don’t traditionally contain chocolate, my favourite version does.

I originally got this recipe from Gail’s Recipe Swap on the Epicurious website way back in 1995. Fun trivia fact for the day: I was the very first person to reply to the very first post on Gail’s Recipe Swap.

I have no idea who the original poster actually is, but he seriously knew his cookies. These are fantastic. Here is my version of the original recipe:

Chocolate Pfeffernüße

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup golden syrup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. mace
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup candied lemon peel
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 lbs. bittersweet chocolate
  1. Combine honey, golden syrup, brown sugar and butter in a saucepan . Heat, stirring occasionally, until butter melts and the mixture begins to bubble gently.
  2. Remove from heat and let sit 15 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
  4. Stir the eggs into the cooled honey mixture, and pour it, all at once, into the flour mixture.
  5. Stir to form a dough.
  6. Stir in the peel, zest, and the pumpkin seeds.
  7. Wrap the dough in plastic (I usually divide it into 4 pieces for easier handling) and refrigerate at least overnight.
  8. Preheat oven to 350.
  9. Pinch off half a Tablespoon of dough at a time and roll it into a ball.
  10. Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheets.
  11. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until set in the center.
  12. Cool completely.
  13. Temper the chocolate (Google it, and look for the seeding method if you don’t know how to do this).
  14. Dip the cookies into the tempered chocolate and set on a sheet of foil to cool and harden.
  15. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for at least 3 weeks before eating. If you have that kind of willpower.

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