• Spice cookies (pfeffernüsse) (China Squirrel)Source: China Squirrel

Often associated with Christmas in Germany, these bite-sized mouthfuls of gingerbread deliciousness actually originated in Scandinavia. The combination of a soft, highly spiced centre hidden beneath a crisp, sugar-powdered outer coat is pure, festive heaven.






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (55 votes)


  • 125 g unsalted butter, softened slightly
  • 110 g (½ cup, firmly packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated
  • 1 orange, zest finely grated
  • 90 g (60 ml/¼ cup)  honey
  • 1 egg
  • 40 g (¼ cup) finely chopped candied citrus rind
  • 350 g (2⅓ cups) plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp crushed aniseed
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • 125 g (1 cup) pure icing sugar, to dust

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time 20 minutes

Preheat oven to 160°C (140°C fan-forced). Line two large oven trays with non-stick baking paper.

Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar and citrus zest until just creamy. Add the honey and beat until just combined. Add the egg and beat until evenly combine. Mix in the candied citrus rind.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on lowest possible speed until just combined and a soft dough forms.

Roll heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place 5 cm apart on the lined trays. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, swapping the trays halfway through baking, or until they start to crack and are just cooked through.

Sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl. Add about 6 warm biscuits to the icing sugar and toss to coat generously. Place on a wire rack to cool and repeat with the remaining biscuits.


Baker’s tips

• The uncooked dough will keep covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. Roll and bake straight from the fridge.

• These biscuits will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.


Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel.


This recipe is part of our Bakeproof: Festive cookies column. 

View previous Bakeproof columns and recipes here.


Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. For hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.