Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

December 13, 2017

© Ryan Szulc and Mike McColl

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Pfeffernüsse cookies

Desserts from one of Canada’s favourite pastry chefs

These little gems have a lovely spicy character that comes not just from traditional baking spices, but also from black pepper. They’re great at holiday time as an addition to a cookie tin mix. They’re also perfect to make ahead and freeze.


Prep: 25 minutes
Bake: 16 minutes


6 tbsp. (90 ml) honey
6 tbsp. (90 ml) granulated sugar
¼ c. (60 ml) packed dark brown sugar
¼ c. (60 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
2 c. (500 ml) all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. (3.75 ml) baking soda
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) ground cinnamon
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) ground cardamom
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) anise seed
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) ground allspice
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) ground cloves
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) ground black pepper
¼ tsp. (1.25 ml) salt
icing sugar, for rolling the baked cookies


Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the honey with both sugars, the melted butter, egg and egg yolk. Sift the flour, baking soda, spices and salt over the sugar mixture, and stir until evenly blended (the batter will be dense).

Use a small ice cream scoop or two teaspoons to scoop up the batter. Shape it into balls between the palms of your hands, place the balls on the prepared trays, leaving 2 inches (5 cm) between each, and bake for 14–16 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned.

Cool the cookies on the tray on a cooling rack and then roll them in icing sugar to coat them completely. The cookies will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container or can be frozen for up to 3 months. Makes about 3½ dozen cookies.

Note: Ground anise seed really gives Pfeffernüsse cookies their distinctive taste and can usually be found at European food shops. If you don’t have ground anise seed, you can leave it out.

(Crushed fennel seed as a substitute was too strong-tasting.)

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