Bursting with every Christmas flavour you can possibly crave, German Spice Cookies are not overly sweet, but quite aromatic and warm. These are the type of cookies that make you feel cozy from the inside out! The combination of spices feel warm in the mouth and almost demands to be enjoyed with a hot coffee!
German Spice Cookies are often what English-speaking individuals call German Pfeffernusse Cookies, however, the recipe I use for these spice cookies are a little different! Usually these have black pepper in them, but the Dutch Pepernoten Cookies from yesterday have all the pepper you need!
This particular recipe has the makings of almost every common Christmas ingredient you can think of when it comes to baking – all with the exception of peppermint, maybe!
There’s molasses – one of my personal favourite ingredients for this time of year! – and anise extract, which has a dominant licorice flavour. Then, of course, there’s the holy trinity of fall spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
DO I NEED TO BUY ALL OF THESE SPICES?
To be perfectly honest with you, I sometimes leave out the all-spice and add ground ginger instead. I only use all-spice if I have it on hand. I bake often, so it’s very rare for me to not have all of these spices in my cupboard. If you don’t and you would like to save some money, just purchase pumpkin spice blend and the results will be very similar.
I’m afraid that in my experience there really is no perfect substitute for anise extract. You could use anise liqueur if you have it on hand. If you really don’t want to purchase it, I would just use either vanilla or almond extract.
MORE CHRISTMAS COOKIE RECIPES!
Did you know that I’ve been posting a 24 Cookies of Christmas series for a few years now? There are over 100 Christmas cookie recipes that you can find right here at Lord Byron’s Kitchen! To make it easier to find, I have created a page for each series. Just click on the image below and you’ll find the full series for that volume all one page!
WHY DO YOU ROLL THE COOKIES IN SUGAR?
It’s completely optional. But, the cookie is certainly more festive with the confectioner’s sugar coating. I’ve tried it both ways and I prefer the coating and here’s why.
When you place one of these mini German Spice Cookies in your mouth, the confectioner’s sugar immediately wakes up the taste buds as that sugar begins to quickly dissolve. To me, it’s the best way to eat them.
It’s important to roll the cookies in the confectioner’s sugar almost immediately after the cookies are removed from the oven. The residual heat in the cookie will create steam which will very slightly melt the confectioner’s sugar, which in turn, will cause the sugar to stick to the cookie better.
WHAT IS ANISE?
If you’re not experienced with the flavours star anise spice, let me try my best to describe this unique flavour to you. IT has a licorice flavour. It tastes like black licorice. If you like that taste, or if you like the taste of fennel, you’ll love anise.
Fennel seeds are used quite often in sausage recipes, so you’ll probably already be familiar with the flavour. Anise flavour is quite often used in Chinese cooking. In fact, it’s one of the main spices in the popular Chinese 5-Spice blend. Since there are many candies that have adopted the anise flavour, I’m sure you’ve already experienced the flavour.
You can buy star anise in its whole form. It’s hard and comes in the shape of an eight pointed star. They’re actually quite pretty! You can also buy ground star anise, or anise seeds. I use anise seeds Star Anise Biscotti recipe. Star anise also comes in the form of an extract, and can be found in most grocery stores. You will need to use anise extract in this recipe.
MORE CHRISTMAS CONFECTIONS!
In some cases, we want more than a cookie. That’s why I have two more Christmas-themed collections you might want to consider. The first, is my 12 Bundt Cakes of Christmas, and the second is my 12 Biscotti of Christmas. Click on the image below to see each collection all on one page with links to each recipe!
STORING, PACKAGING, AND FREEZING
These cookies will stay fresh for about 3-5 days in a covered container and in a cool place. But, if you plan to freeze these cookies, use a food-safe container that can be frozen. You’ll want to ensure a very tight fitting lid too. (I use these quite often when freezing baked goods.) I like to place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top of the container before pushing the lid on. This helps to create a better seal. The goal is to keep all of that cookie freshness locked in!
You can freeze these cookies for up to three months. They will come out of the freezer looking just like they did when you put them in there. Once you thaw them, they will taste just as fresh, and be just as soft, as the day you first baked them.
When ready to thaw, remove them from freezer and take out as many as you need at that time. It’s never a good idea to thaw all of them and put them back in the freezer again. Set aside for 20 minutes or so. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the thawed cookies and gently toss to give the cookies a freshly baked look.
These look great in cellophane bags with a festive ribbon. They make great gifts for friends and neighbours! Don’t package them in cellophane until the day you are giving them as a gift.
German Spice Cookies
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon anise extract
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground all-spice
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and molasses until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and the anise extract. Beat into the butter mixture.
- Next, add the flour, cinnamon, all-spice, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and salt. Beat into the butter mixture until just mixed through.
- Portion the dough into 1 teaspoon portions. Roll into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between each cookie.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the top of the cookie forms cracks.
- Remove from oven and leave to cool on the baking sheet for one minute.
- While the cookies are still warm, roll into the confectioner's sugar and place onto a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.