Updated February 8, 2017.
Pfeffernüsse are the best gluten-free German Christmas cookies!
There’s something about the spicy aroma mixed with the scent of winter greens and Christmas hymns . . . and the warm, pepper bite wrapped in sweet snowy goodness . . . mm-mm!
It’s like a taste of the mother land and old world German traditions.
On Sundays throughout the month of December, I remember lighting the Advent wreath, which was decked out in fresh greenery and decorated with holly berries.
We’d open a shutter on the Advent Calendar, counting the days until the coming of der Weihnachtsmann (pronounced vie-nakt-smen; meaning “Christmas Man”, a.k.a. Santa Claus).
On Heiliger Abend (pronounced hie-ligger ah-bend, meaning "Christmas Eve"), the extended family gathered at Gramma and Grampa’s house. After a festive dinner we’d decorate the tall tree, which was often 10 feet high!
Then, we’d gather around the old player piano while Gramma struck a lively tune. We’d start by singing O Tannenbaum (O Christmas Tree) and finished with Stille Nacht (Silent Night).
Moved by the spirit of the season, the children with eyes aglow would each receive one small gift, a German tradition passed down through the generations; one we still practice with our family, though I married into an ancient Irish clan.
Before families retired to their homes for the magical night, we snacked on flavorful holiday treats, including Pfeffernüsse, and a glass of cold milk.
At home, we’d share the rich goodness by setting out a small plate of cookies and glass of milk for Santa Claus, too.
Pfeffernüsse are delicious little German spice cookies covered with powdered sugar and are not be confused with similar powdered sugar dusted spice biscuits such as English Peppernuts or Russian Teacakes.
Make up a batch of Pfeffernüsse ahead of time and then let them “ripen”. They keep well and just get better with age!
Best of all they're dairy-free, naturally! To make an egg-free version, simply substitute Ener-G Foods Egg Replacer for the eggs in this recipe; no sacrifice will occur in product quality.
Build a Christmas memory; Pfeffernüsse is a wonderful taste of Christmas you’ll never forget!
Time: about 60 minutes
Servings: about 48 cookies