October 22, 2013 | 13 Comments

Today I want to share with you my Aunt Dorothy’s recipe for German Peppernuts (aka Pfefferneuse).  She developed this recipe herself because none that she could find tasted quite right, and it was her guarded secret for many years, so you won’t find anything quite like it on the internet.

Aunt Dorothys German Peppernuts 640x640

My Aunt Dorothy was one of my favorite people, even though we didn’t get to see her often.  She lived in Florida and I remember only a few visits during my childhood and teen years.  Once my family drove an RV to Florida to visit her (and Disneyworld).  The trip was so very memorable because she and Uncle Tuck had a pet squirrel who lived in the trees of their back yard.  He would come down and check Uncle Tuck’s pockets for nuts, and if he held a nut in his hand, the squirrel would peel back his fingers one at a time until it could steal it.  It was one of the cutest things I’d ever seen!  I spent many days the next summer trying to coax squirrels out of Nanny’s trees so that I could pet them and tame them like Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Tuck had.  It never worked.


Now on to the recipe.  Be sure to notice that the dough needs to rest overnight before baking.  If you’re like me and wait until the last minute to bake, you might put yourself into a bind.

Peppernuts prep

Aunt Dorothy’s German Peppernuts (aka Pfefferneuse)

Here's all you need

  • 1/2 cup Crisco
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar (packed)
  • 2 cups Granulated Sugar
  • dash Salt
  • 3 Eggs (beaten)
  • 3 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ceyenne Pepper


Cream together first four ingredients.
Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly with spoon and then with hands. (This is how the original recipe reads. I used my Kitchenaid Mixer with the paddle attachment on "Stir" and it came out great!) The consistency is somewhere between wet sand and clay at this point.
Cover and let sit overnight (at least 8 hours) to develop flavor. Aunt Dorothy's recipe didn't specify, but I put mine in the fridge because of the raw eggs.
Preheat oven to 325.
Take a golf ball size piece and knead like clay. At first it will seem too dry, but the warmth of your hands will help it to stick together. Roll into a rope about the size of a pencil or the tip of your pinkie finger. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
Place one inch apart on cookie sheet.
Bake at 325 for 12-15 minutes. Let cool and store in airtight container.



I didn’t realize it had been so long since we’d made these.  J-Bear had never had them before.  He was slightly skeptical and just wanted one to taste.  I told him it wouldn’t be enough.  Now he’s calling them Crack Cookies and wanted some to take to school with him this morning.

J-Bear and Peppernuts

These last a long, long time if you store them in an airtight container (but I don’t think it will take you that long to eat them). I hope you’ll give them a try.  Don’t let the unusual ingredients scare you off – they really are delicious.

13 Responses to “Aunt Dorothy’s German Peppernuts (aka Pfefferneuse)”

  1. Debbie Denny

    Oh my I will have to give them a try! My granddaughter loves to cook and we have so much fun. These will be great to make the next time she comes down!

  2. Rita L.

    I have heard these are so good but have never had them. I am going to have to make them and see for myself. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Sandra R

    I’ve heard of these, but have never tried them. LOL Crack cookies! That’s hilarious!
    I wonder how your aunt and uncle trained a squirrel that way. I remember when my daughter was young, we’d bring her to the park, have a picnic and my husband would get my daughter’s attention by saying there’s a squirrel and she’d take off running after it! She’d chase it to the tree then yell at it to come back down so she could play with it 🙂

  4. Amberm

    I have never heard of anything like these before. Think I just found a new recipe that I HAVE TO TRY 🙂 Thanks for sharing with us!

  5. Shauna Lynn

    My husband’s maternal grandma is from Germany, WWII war bride is what she calls herself, so I’m sure she’d love for me to make these for her! I’ll definitely be working on that his weekend!

  6. Krista B

    I love family recipes that are passed down! While I have never heard of these – they certainly sound interesting and I would love to try them! I bet hubby would chow them down!

  7. Lesley

    These sound delicious! The one problem is that in my house, my kids eat 1 or 2 cookies when we make a batch, my hubby has 1 or 2, and then I devour everything else! I’m afraid if I make them I wouldn’t be able to stop eating them 🙂

  8. Calien Laure

    I’ve tried the store bought versions of this before and I guess I never stopped to look at the ingredients. With all that sugar, it is no wonder I liked them! I will have to try your Aunt’s recipe in this year’s batches of Christmas cookies. They will be a welcome addition to the mix!

  9. Keith M Kieffer

    Thank you for sharing your aunt’s recipe!
    My German Grandma had a similar cookie, but called them Clutjens. Does anyone know why these might have been called Clutjens instead of Pfeffernusse?
    Here is her recipe:

    Grandma Helen Meier’s Recipe
    – Keith M Kieffer, Kamokasie@Gmail.com

    A half recipe is recommended
    3 cups Sugar Alternate: 1.5 Cups Sugar

    1 Cup Crisco Alternate 1: 1 cup Lard
    Alternate 2: 1 cup Promise brand margarine
    (Only use lard if it will all be eaten within the same month.)

    Mix well.

    2 eggs
    Mix well. (Is it better to begin with eggs for 2+ minutes first?)

    1 teaspoon Soda dissolved in 1 cup cold Coffee Alternate: 1 cup hot water

    4 teaspoons Anise Seed Alternate: 1 tablespoon Anise Oil
    Alternate: mix the two 1/2 & 1/2

    1 Cup Molasses Alternate: 1 cup Dark Syrup

    1 teaspoon Cinnamon
    Optional: 1 teaspoon white pepper, ½ teaspoon ginger, 1 tablespoon vanilla

    Mix well.

    5-6 cups flour
    It will still be somewhat runny, that’s okay. Get mix into 1 gallon bag. Cut corner of bag, and squeeze out snakes onto floured wax paper.

    Freeze the snakes to make them easier to cut. Could freeze half the batch and bake that batch next month.

    Chop into pieces about two-nickels thick.

    Spray cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray with initial batch.
    Bake at 350 degrees for about 13 minutes. Time will vary wildly with light vs. dark pan.



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