Christmas Recipe: Pfeffernusse

Hello All!

I wanted to start off by saying THANK YOU to all those who came out to our Luminary Event this past weekend. The event was a HUGE success and it means a great deal to everyone involved at the Memorial to see so many caring visitors supporting us! The Memorial had over a thousand visitors this past weekend; more than double the last two years. One of the most important duties the National D-Day Memorial has is making sure the memories of our fallen soldiers continue on for future generations. Our mission would not be made possible without the support of you all. We are truly thankful to have you part of our foundation. I also send a big thank you to the Virgina Moose Association for sponsoring this event. You all have made it possible for us to share these important memories with so many wonderful people.
Onward to cookie making!

Pfeffernusse Cookies
I hope you are having a great morning so far and you are not too stressed about the holidays yet! There are only 8 days until Christmas, can you believe it? I am sure you have already made your holiday treats, but I thought I would share a special cookie recipe with you all, one that was popular during World War II and today! The Pfeffernüsse cookie is a delicious spice cookie, popular in Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands. This particular cookie is special in my family’s household because we are both of German and Danish dissent and my grandparents, and great-grandparents, made these during the holiday season, despite the shortages during WWII. Obviously, since this particular cookie has a German connection, not all Americans were eager to make them during the war.  But as we all know, there were, and still are, a rather large number of those with German ancestry living in the country and the tradition has been kept by them.
The Pfeffernüsse is also known as pepernoten in Dutch, päpanät in Plautdietsch, or peppernuts in English. The origin of the cookie is not clear, but the traditional Dutch belief is that the pepernoten was connected to the feast of Sinterklaas, which is celebrated on December 5 in the Netherlands, the 6th in Germany and Belgium. Sinterklaas, as you may have guessed, is when children receive their gifts from St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus. For the Germans, the cookie has a closer association to traditional Christmas celebrations and has been part of European holidays since the 1850s. 
Woman baking cookies, 1940s.

It is commonly believed that the name pfeffernüsse indicates nuts within the cookie, although many varieties do not contain any nuts at all. However, the cookie is meant to be small, like the size of a nut, which may have had a hand in its given name. Also, throughout time, bakers have created their own unique recipes for their cookies; however, the common theme is the spices used and the use of molasses and honey to sweeten the cookie.

If you are unfamiliar with the pfeffernüsse cookie, then you can compare it to the Kruidnoten cookie or Russian Tea-cakes; commonly mistaken, both have a nutty, spicy, flavor and are of similar shape to the pfeffernüsse.

The cookie recipe I will use is from a cookbook from the 1940s titled: The Christmas Cookie Recipes: December 1944, BY The Home Service Bureau; The Electric Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Jo’s Pfeffernuesse


4 eggs


2 cups sugar (use honey or molasses if short on sugar)


1 tablespoon cinnamon


1 tablespoon ground cloves


1 teaspoon black pepper


¼ cup finely cut candied orange peel


¼ cup finely cut candied lemon peel


¼ cup finely cut candied citron


4 cups enriched bread flour



1.  Beat whole eggs until light and fluffy.


2. Gradually add sugar, beating constantly.


3. After last of sugar has been added beat 15 minutes using high  speed of mixer.


4. Add cinnamon, cloves, pepper, finely cut orange and lemon peel and citron.


5. Fold in flour by hand.


6. Shape a little less that a tablespoonful into a ball. Place on greased cookie sheets.


7. Back at 400 degrees about 15 minutes.


8. Makes about 7 dozen.
Let’s get baking!! 
Take care,
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