Pfefferkuchen Recipe

This is an old family recipe that originated in Germany. I remember my grandma and my mom baking this cookie every Christmas. It’s somewhat akin to gingerbread, but with a licorice flavor (derived from the anise). Don’t expect to make this cookie in secret; the aroma will fill the entire house! But, it’s a good smell. It’s the smell of Christmas.

1 lb brown sugar
1 T cinnamon
2 1/4 c. shortening
1 T nutmeg
2 eggs
1 tsp cloves
1 qt dark Karo syrup
1 tsp allspice
1 pt sour cream
1 tsp cardamom
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
Rind & juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp salt
1 T anise oil (Do NOT use extract, you can find the oil at your pharmacy or online)

Mix all ingredients together.  Just before pouring out, add 2 Tbsp soda.  Pour liquid ingredients into a large pan.  (I use a 13 quart bowl, but a clean dishpan works, too).

Stir in enough flour to make a dough stiff enough to roll out, about 18 cups.  Chill.

Roll dough about 1/4 inch thick; cut with cookie cutter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cookies are better if made several weeks before used.

Frosting:  Beat 1 or 2 egg whites until frothy (beginning to peak).  Add 3/4 to 1 cup powdered sugar per egg white, depending on size until frosting reaches the consistency of Elmer’s glue.  Food coloring may be added if desired.  Spread on the flat side of the cookie; decorate as desired.  Place in warm oven, about 200 degrees, for 6-7 minutes until set.  Cool on rack.  Store in airtight container, putting waxed paper between cookies that have been frosted.  Makes between 20 and 24 dozen, but they will keep for months and when they are frosted, taste better than fresh ones.

Note: If your frosting leaves a watery mess after baking, add more powdered sugar. It should be the consistency of the paste you used in grade school. *You can eat this paste without being ridiculed.