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Pfeffernuesse -Bev's recipe

I think when it comes to Mennonite food
there are as many recipes for each dish as there are Grandmothers.
My recipe for Pfeffernuesse is quite different than the ones posted previously.
These tiny cookies are quite hard and are meant to be sucked or dunked.
I was told that in years past, the grandmothers would bring them to church for the children to suck on - ensuring they would keep quiet during the sermon.

I like to bake them around this time of year so that the flavours have a chance to mellow
before serving them in December.
However, once my family knows I've made them, they disappear by the handfuls.
The original recipe is a very large one - I think it usually makes about 3 ice cream buckets full. I've halved the recipe to make it easier for smaller families.

Speaking from experience, it's good to read the whole recipe through once before starting.

  • 2 cups golden cane syrup (in Canada it is made by Rogers) this has a unique flavour somewhat different than regular corn syrup.
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Place above ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Cool to room temperature.
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (yes that's right)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground star anise
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 7-8 cups flour
  1. Add egg and extracts to sugar syrup mixture, mixing well.
  2. Into a large mixing bowl, sift together 4 cups of the flour with the spices and baking powder.
  3. Pour liquid mixture over and mix thoroughly.
  4. Continue adding flour - dough will be sticky and still somewhat soft.
  5. Cover bowl with lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 5 days.
  6. Spoon out about 1 - 2 cups dough, leaving remainder in fridge.
  7. On a floured board or pastry sheet, roll into long logs about the thickness of your index finger.
  8. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces and place on parchment paper covered cookie sheets. (this makes it much easier to remove the cookies after baking.)
It's a good time to invite someone to help - there are a lot of very small cookies to put on the pans.

  • Bake at 350ยบ for 15 minutes or until set. (if you have a convection oven, the baking goes much faster as you can bake 3 cookie sheets at a time)
  • Repeat with remaining cookie dough.
  • When cookies are baked, remove from cookie sheets and allow to cool completely before storing in ice cream pails.
  • These store best in a cool place like a garage. They do not need to be in the freezer. They will keep for months.
  • If you bake them early in November, the flavours have a chance to mellow.
  • Warning - these can become addictive.

    1. On Saturday I spent the afternoon with my grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins and we made pfeffernuesse for the Christmas season - 16L! Our recipe looks a little different, but the spices are the same.

    2. Any substitution for the golden cane syrup? Never heard of these cookies with peppermint; need to try them!

    3. thank you for posting this recipe. I've been looking for one that had more common baking ingredients. Much better to get one that is tried and true!

      I can't wait to make these!

    4. I never realized this was a Canadian-based blog. How wonderful. Thanks so much for the pfeffernuesse recipe. I haven't had those since I was a kid.

    5. Lekker!

      Don't believe Google when you are looking for 'pepernoten'. They show you 'kruidnootjes'. But even here in The Netherlands we all make the same mistake and call kruidnootjes 'pepernoten'. In fact, pepernoten are so hard that they might break your teeth.

      Here you see a picture of the real pepernoten:

      And here you will find my recipe of kruidnootjes:
      If necessary, I will translate it.

    6. Pfeffernuesse is a traditional recipe that my mother-in-law handed down to us. Traditionally, I make a hudge batch of dough, then split it with my sister in law. There tradition is to bake them then bring them with them when the go to cut down there tree. Mixed mine up yesterday. My recipe is different, has sour cream in it as well. Such a delicous treat. You eat them like sunflower seeds. Can't just have one.

    7. I don't know of another substitute for Rogers Syrup. Golden corn syrup is all I can think of but it doesn't have the same flavour. You could try Googling 'Rogers Syrup'. Perhaps they sell it on line.

    8. Aunt Bev, I was so surprised when a friend said that I was on the website, and here I see the picture last year when we made Pfeffernuesse! I had such a wonderful time making them with you, and they turned out so well. Perfect for dipping in a nice cup of coffee

    9. Well that's a different recipe than I grew up with but the final size and crunchiness is the same. I am told that these were not Christmas cookies for my father's family. A handful in a shirt pocket made for a sturdy treat while driving the tractor or doing other farm chores any time of year.

    10. Bev, thank you for posting this recipe! My grandmother used to bake these once in a blue moon. I've been searching for a pfeffernuesse recipe that was uncomplicated and a "good mailer". These look like just the thing. Thank you, Bev!

    11. Mmm, these look great! I'm going to beg my wife to make them :)


    12. This recipe is different than my Oma and Opa's, but they made them small like these. Prior to my Opa's death, I ensured I had his recipe and made them so I knew how to make them just like he and Oma did. I make them every year - they are a labour of love, but they bring back so many wonderful memories.

    13. So...just wondering where you find your star anise? I always went to the Funk's store, but alas it is no more! Is it sold in Save-On or Safeway?

    14. What a wonderful website! A substitute for Star Anise might be found in a Dutch deli.It is called Anijs Blokjes.It looks like sugar cubes and is used in hot milk as a drink. It has a strong anise flavor.

    15. when you ask for margerine, is it the hard margerine in blocks? can I substiute butter?

    16. I used unsalted butter when I made them recently. I would use the block margarine as opposed to the soft, tub style.


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