Today is Pfeffernüsse Day, and we all have an excuse to make the little German cookies so popular during the holiday season. As much as I love homemade cookies, this is one I like packaged, but I did manage to find one recipe that made me just as happy as the crunchy, confectioners’ sugar ones I buy in late November. Pfeffernüsse (pepper nuts) don’t always have actual pepper in them, but this recipe does. It also has anise, which, like the pepper, is pretty much optional these days.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until creamy. Beat in the corn syrup and hot water, then beat in the anise extract, pepper, baking soda, cloves, and allspice. By hand or using the lowest speed of the mixer, add the flour and stir to make a fairly firm dough. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and have ready an ungreased baking sheet.
Divide the dough into quarters and roll each portion into a ¾-inch-thick rope. Cut the ropes on the diagonal, spacing the cuts about 1 inch apart. Arrange the cookies 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack. When completely cool, roll in confectioners’ sugar.