Grandma Bohlmann's Pfeffernusse

December 30, 2013
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

I can still picture Grandpa shelling the walnuts for these Christmastime favorites. The original recipe called for lard. I now use butter. I also bake them on kitchen parchment, something unheard of in Grandma's day. —mary beth

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Mary beth has just celebrated her one year anniversary as a member of Food52.
WHAT: Bite-size spice cookies just like Grandma used to make.
HOW: Whisk flour with ground cardamom and more ground cloves than you’re comfortable with. Add in a mixture of baking soda and molasses, an egg, and chopped walnuts. Form into tiny cookies, bake for 10 minutes, then dip in powdered sugar.
WHY WE LOVE IT: These cookies don’t rely on a long list of spices for that traditional pfeffernuse flavor—instead, they lean heavily on ground cloves (we used 2 teaspoons, but go for 3 if you're more daring). They’re sweet, spicy, and small enough that you can fit two in your mouth at once. —The Editors

  • Makes about 11 dozen
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves (see editor's headnote)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
In This Recipe
  1. Whisk flour, cardamom, and cloves together. Set aside.
  2. In a 2-cup or larger measuring cup, stir the baking soda into the molasses. Set aside. (This will foam up quite bit, thus the need for a larger cup.)
  3. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well again.
  4. Add molasses and flour mixtures to butter mixture in 3 to 4 additions, alternating between wet and dry ingredients. Beat well after each addition—the batter will be sticky.
  5. Fold in the walnuts. Refrigerate overnight or up to several days before baking.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350° F and use your hands to roll the dough into 3/4-inch balls. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Roll in them powdered sugar while still warm.
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