Recipe for Pebernodder Cookies plus a Kids Game called Mouse

Pfeffernüsse is a traditional German Christmas cookie. Pfeffernüsse literally translates into English as pepper-nut. That’s because most traditional recipes for these cookies are spicy and call for pepper. I believe the “nut” part is because they were traditionally shaped like little balls or nuts. That’s where you get peppernut.

These cookies are also traditional at Christmastime in Denmark. In Danish they’re called pebernødder. They can also be found in English speaking countries. In the U.S. they’re called pfeffernuesse.

Photo of Pebbernodder

Laurel Skelton was nice enough to send me a recipe. Here’s what she wrote:

I have several recipes, but some call for baking soda, and produce a fluffier cookie – NOT what I consider classic Pebernodder. Following is the recipe that produces the smallest, nut-like cookie, but it doesn’t call for much spice. So I make the cookies with a combination of the recipes I have, adding spices from the others to this basic recipe:

PEBERNODDER (Peppernuts)

2 1/2 cups (325 grams) Flour
1 cup (200 grams) Sugar
1 cup (225 grams) Butter
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Cardamom
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon White Pepper
Grated Lemon Rind

Take out butter early to soften.

Sift dry ingredients into large mixing bowl. Add butter and eggs and grated lemon rind. Mix well. Kneed with hands until dough is smooth.

Let rest about 1 hour. Then roll out into ropes the thickness of a pencil, and cut into pieces about the size of a pea. Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 325 Fahrenheit (165°C) for about 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.

(I omit the lemon rind, add 1 Tablespoon of Molasses and use the following spices: 4 t. Cardamom, 2 t. White Pepper, 2 1/2 t. Ginger, 3/4 t. Cloves.)

Laurel had asked me about a game that kids play with pebernødder. I posted her question on my blog. The first person to respond said that pebernødder were used like tokens for payment when playing games.

More recently, we got a response by Karin Parnis, who used to play a game called Mouse (Mus in Danish), with these cookies. Here’s what Karin wrote:

I used to play a game called “mus” or “mouse” with my grandmother. You must have at least 3 people to play. You line up 10 or so pebbernodder on the table and point one of them out while the person who is “it” closes his eyes. He can then eat the pebbernodder one by one until he touches the “mouse” and the other players shout “MOUSE”. You keep taking turns to be “it” until you’re sick of eating pebbernodder or until there are none left!

Many thanks to Karin and Laurel for writing!

If anyone would like to share other holiday recipes or traditions, please feel free to comment below or email me.

Lisa

UPDATE: I made these cookies both ways. I found both to be very tasty. My children liked the 1st recipe best, but my husband preferred the spicier ones.

*****

The pfeffernuesse that you see in the US are often made with baking soda and even baking powder. They’re also made into 3/4″ balls before baking – so that they’re a larger, fluffier cookie. When they cool off a little, they’re coated with powdered sugar.

The version above, especially the first version of the recipe, is pretty mild. They’re sort of like a slightly spicy tasting, crunchy, sugar cookie. Yum-my!

In the second version above, you taste white pepper mixed with sweet cookie.

You can tell in the photo above that most of mine came out a little bigger than they were supposed to. My kids helped roll them – so they were all sorts of sizes. But it was a great project to do with kids. For my 5 year old daughter, it was like playing with play dough. It was fun for her, yet she was a big help!

This article was posted on Monday, December 11th, 2006 at 9:16 pm and is filed under Christmas, Christmas Cookies, Cookies, Countries & Cultures, Danish, Denmark, Desserts, English, Games Around the World, German, Germany, Holidays Around the World, Languages, Pebernødder, Pebernodder Cookie Game, Pfeffernüsse, Pfeffernuesse, Recipes of the World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

10 Responses to “Recipe for Pebernodder Cookies plus a Kids Game called Mouse”

  1. Lisa Says:

    There’s a Danish kids song about a pebernød called Der lå en lille pebernød. You can read it in Danish here. It goes something like this in English…

    There Lay a Little Pebernød

    There lay a little pebernød
    At the bottom of the cake tin,
    It rolled and rolled,
    Because it was so round.
    But suddenly the lid
    Jumped up, and the pebernød with it,
    And it rolled and rolled
    and rolled away.
    It rolled to Langeland,
    It rolled to Scania,
    It rolled to the stars
    And to the moon,
    It rolled to Heaven’s gate.
    But alas! That got it lost.
    Now it lies and rolls
    In St. Peter’s stomach.

  2. Karin Lightner Says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I have this recipe from my Danish grandmother, but she used Hartshorn Salts instead of baking soda. It is hard to find the salts, but I did find it at a local pharmacy. It gives a different texture to the finished cookie.

    Also, my grandmother rolled the dough into ropes and cut the ropes into about 1/2″ lengths, so the end result cookie was more of a log than a pea. My father remembers his mother filling cloth bags full of Pebbernodder for him and his brother to tuck into their pockets and take along when they went out to play!

    Happy Holidays!

  3. Lisa Says:

    That’s cool! Thanks for sharing that with us.

    Happy Holidays to you too!

    -Lisa

  4. krcg Says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I have this recipe from my Danish grandmother, but she used Hartshorn Salts instead of baking soda. It is hard to find the salts, but I did find it at a local pharmacy. It gives a different texture to the finished cookie.

    Also, my grandmother rolled the dough into ropes and cut the ropes into about 1/2″ lengths, so the end result cookie was more of a log than a pea. My father remembers his mother filling cloth bags full of Pebbernodder for him and his brother to tuck into their pockets and take along when they went out to play!

    Happy Holidays!

  5. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for sharing that! Happy Holidays to you too!

    Mama Lisa

  6. Amy Says:

    I had a taste for these late tonight and used ginger (instead of cardamom, as suggested on a spice substitute website), cinnamon and half tsp black pepper. Really I used what I had to see if I could get close. They’re actually quite good. But goodness, it made over 200 cookies! They turned out so good I filled a small tin with them and crossed another name off my Christmas gift list, saving plenty for nibbling and having around for Christmas. Thanks for the help. Even though I had to wing it, I needed the basic foundation for pepper nut cookies! I plan on definitely making the authentic ones, but don’t be afraid to play with this recipe. You want it sweet with a “bite” and the sugar, ginger and black pepper met the grade…

  7. Edle Says:

    All my brothers and sisters would help make these cookies when we were kids. At Christmas time, we would always recieve a bag of different candies with a handful of Peppernods mixed in. My father always played a game with us where we held a certain amount of peppernuts in our closed hand and the person who was the closests to guessing the correct amount would get the peppernods. I think my father was kind to us and ensured we didn’t always lose.

  8. Ruth Says:

    Pfeffernüsse are not only called like that because you use pepper. In older times spices were called Pfeffer/pepper in Germany. So a cake or cookie with lots of spices would be called Pfefferkuchen or Pfeffernüsse.

  9. Suzanne Says:

    I read your posts with interest.
    About 25 years ago I was given a small handfu of peppernuts and absolutely fell in love with them.
    But the bakery in Lindsborg, Kansas closed that year and I could not locate the former owners. I was told they moved away, so I could not find their recipe.
    I have tried several recipes, but have not found a similar one to what I was given.
    They had molasses and anise. And I was also told there was cardamon in them.
    They were very small and a medium dark brown. Also they were rolled into thin ropes and cut.

    If anyone knows of this recipe, could you please let me know. I want to make them for my great-grand children for Christmas this year, starting a new memorable tradition with them.

    Thank you so much for any help!

    Sincerely,
    Suzanne Penzenstadler
    Salina, KS
    suzannep@cox.net

  10. Lisa Says:

    Hi Suzanne,

    I found a recipe online for pebernodder cookies that includes molasses and anise here and another recipe here. I hope this helps!

    -Mama Lisa

    PS If you make either recipe, please let us know how it tastes.

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