Pfeffernüsse with Cream Cheese Frosting
So much has changed since the last time I posted on here. We are in Texas, in our new apartment and miles away from our home in our sweet little Turkish village. While we are technically out of boxes, we are by no means settled. We still need a couch and we have art leaning against the wall on the floor waiting to be placed in its spot on the wall. Despite not feeling completely settled, here were are at the beginning of Christmas week and I am so ready to smell cookies baking in the oven and balsam pine candles burning in the background. At this point, we do not even have a whisk but today a fork will do! Every year, my family makes cookies called pfeffernüsse but we add a little (untraditional) twist.
My mom's side of the family is German so we would often make a German spiced cookie called pfeffernüsse but then we would Americanize it with a dollop of cream cheese frosting. Even when I was in Turkey, I would make these cookies and I would make little substitutions along the way like labne instead of cream cheese and pekmez instead of molasses. To me Christmas = pfeffernüsse cookies, and now my husband (and his family) are crazy about them too. My absolute favorite type of cookie usually involves a lot of spices and chewiness so if you like that too, this is your kind of cookie. Check out the recipe below!
For Cookie Dough:
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup butter, cubed
2 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons anise extract or vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces cream cheese
3 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a small saucepan, combine molasses, honey, and butter. Stir over medium heat until melted. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Stir in eggs and extract.
Combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, and salt. Gradually add molasses mixture and mix until fully combined. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325°. Roll dough into 1-in. balls. Place on baking sheets with silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes.
As soon as cookies come out of the oven, press down with a tool the width of your thumb (like the handle-end of a wooden spoon) to create a recess for the cream cheese frosting.
Remove cookies from baking tray and place on wire racks to cool completely.
While the cookies are cooling, make cream cheese frosting. Beat softened cream cheese until well blended then add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until creamy.
Once cookies are cooled, spread a tablespoon of frosting on each cookie. Sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon for a decorative finishing touch.
*Store cookies in an airtight container for up to a week and frost right before serving the cookies.