Peppernuts (or Pfeffernusse Cookies) are a traditional German cookie often made in Mennonite communities in the US. They are a highly addictive, tiny, crunchy cookie filled with warming spices and are perfect for gift giving during the holidays!
2 sticks (1 cup, 224 gr) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (336 gr) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp anise extract (this is traditional in this recipe, but can be left out if you do not like anise. I have made them without several times and they are still delicious)
1/4 tsp table salt or Morton kosher salt (use 1/2 tsp if using Diamond kosher)
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp ground cardamom or clove (clove is more traditional, but I prefer the flavor of cardamom)
3 1/2 cups (420 gr) all purpose flour (measured properly-lightly spooned into measuring cups without packing in and leveled off)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. About 3 minutes.
Add the eggs, anise extract, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, white pepper, and clove or cardamom into the bowl and mix until everything is incorporated.
Add the flour into the dough and mix just until it is incorporated. You do not want to mix for a long time, just until the flour is incorporated in.
Press the dough out to about 1" thick and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.
Preheat the oven to 350F (177C). Divide your dough into 16 pieces. Press 1 piece of dough into a ball and roll it out between your hands and a clean work surface to form a thin rope, about 1/4" thick. Use a sharp knife (or I like to use a bench scraper) to cut out tiny nut size pieces of dough. Place on a baking sheet. You can completely fill your sheet in a single layer, but you will need to bake these in several batches to get them all baked. It typically works out to be cutting out the next sheet pan of cookies while the one before it bakes.
Bake at 350F (177C) for 10-14 minutes, until a dark golden brown. Check the cookies at 10 minutes and bake longer if needed. The cookies will be slightly soft when they first come out of the oven but will become very crispy as the cool. Store the completely cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.
This dough can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake.
These cookies keep a very long time, up to 1 month, and the flavor keeps developing. Make them far in advance of your holiday party or for gift giving!
If the dough is too sticky to roll out, let it chill for longer and add a little bit of flour to your work surface while rolling them out.