Date Pfeffernusse Cookies

by kara on December 2, 2012

It’s December already, and we don’t have any snow on the ground.  Im not complaining and have been thinking about holiday cookies anyway.  And these Date  Pfeffernusse Cookies have been calling my name.   The recipe for these surgary/spicy cookies is from my Grandma Tesky.  They are truly one of my very favorite holiday cookies.  Not only do they taste like a holiday cookie, they also bring back lovely memories from my childhood.

My Grandma Tesky, who now lives in a nursing home, was a master baker and cook.  For many years, she worked as a school lunch lady at Hazen High School in Hazen, ND.  When I visited my grandparents house during the holidays, these Date Pfeffernusse Cookies were always available.  She made huge batches and froze them.  When we finished off a tray of cookies, she just pulled out another Ziploc bag of them from her freezer.  In fact, I halfed her original recipe and still baked  approximately 120 cookies (must have been the lunch lady in her to bake for the masses).

Anytime I’ve bought Pfeffernusse cookies from local bakeries, they just simply don’t do it for me.  I’ve been disappointed when they taste dry and are rolled in powdered sugar.  So, this year, I decided to bake my Grandma’s version.  I was a little nervous that they wouldn’t turn out as well as hers did, but I think she would be proud of me.  They’re just as tasty as I remember.  My mom advises having a hot cup of coffee to go along with them, which is a very smart decision.

Date Pfeffernusse Cookies

7 cups all purpose flour

4 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. allspice, cinnamon, and cloves

1 1/2 tsp. ground anise (I ground anise seeds with a mortal and pestle)

2 1/2 beaten large eggs (1/2 egg equals approximately 3 Tbsp.)

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 cups honey

1/4 cup butter

1/2 lb. finely chopped dates

1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 lb. powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. anise extract (I used 1/2 tsp. ground anise)


Mix the dry ingredients (flour- spices) in a large mixing bowl and set aside.  Mix the wet ingredients (eggs-butter) in a medium mixing bowl.   Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture.  Stir until combined.  Add the dates and walnuts.   Cover the batter and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, roll the cookies into walnut-sized balls (grease hands with melted butter) and place on greased cookie sheets (or silpat pads). Approximately 20 cookies should fit on each baking sheet.  Bake the cookies until light brown on top (around 13-15 minutes).

When cookies are cooled, glaze with 1 lb. powdered sugar mixed with a “little hot water” (1/4-1/2 cup) and ground anise (1/2 tsp.).  Dip the top of the cookies into icing and let dry before eating.

These cookies freeze very well and are perfect holiday cookies!


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurie December 2, 2012 at 11:08 pm

These look lovely, Kara! I love holiday cookies with nuts and warm spices. Perfect with a cup of coffee. :)

kara December 3, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Thanks Laurie!

Janet Merrill December 3, 2012 at 11:42 pm

These cookies are yummy! We can’t stop eating them.
Thank you

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