pfeffernusse ice cream sandwiches

Yesterday I flew three thousand miles.

As I type this post it’s half past midnight on the east coast and Mikan, my parent’s puggle, is snoring loudly right next to me. Yesterday morning started a little rocky (me, realizing on the BART halfway to the airport that I had the car keys in my purse while Adam was walking to the parking garage to get the car. oops) but as I landed in Savannah around ten thirty last night and flew into my dad’s waiting arms it felt like all the right in the world.

It’s always good to come home. And this year for the first time, Adam and I are trying to combine Christmases by him flying to Georgia in a few days to spend Christmas Eve with my family and then us flying Christmas morning to Texas to spend Christmas Day with his family. I’ll let you know how that one goes. I think we realized that each of us were spending a total of twenty seven hours on airplanes this month? Crazy.

But back to these cookies! They don’t look like your average pfeffernuesse! And for those of you that don’t know, pfeffernusse rhymes with beetlejuice. I just learned that last week! Let’s say it all together three times fast. Ready…set…GO!

Here are the pfeffernussey cast of characters. As a die-hard licorice fan, I ADORE the addition of anise extract in these cookies! It truly is a wonderful thing.

And you know what else is a wonderful thing? Sandwiching these hearty spicy cookies together the creamy vanilla ice cream. Oh.yes.

There’s a thousand different variations of pfeffernusse out there and like I said, these really aren’t the most traditional variation (most traditional German pfeffernusse is made with molasses and honey and either doused with powdered sugar or glazed with a simple powered sugar glaze). But you know? I think I like them the best! They’re loaded with spice and nuts and still manage to stay slightly soft and chewy on the inside—perfect vehicles for ice cream, if you ask me.

Go team go! Pfeffernusse pfeffernusse pfeffernusse pfeffernusse!

Pfeffernusse Ice Cream Sandwiches

makes about 8 large sandwich cookies

Print this recipe!


1 stick butter, melted

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp anise extract

2 eggs

zest of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp ground white pepper

1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

1/2 cup sliced almonds

cinnamon or vanilla ice cream


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together the melted butter, sugar, eggs and anise extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, white pepper and lemon zest. Add dry ingredients to wet and fold in chopped nuts.

Roll heaping tablespoons (more like golf ball sized!) of dough on lined baking sheets and press down gently on each ball to flatten out a little bit. Bake cookies for 15 minutes until golden.

Let cookies cool completely before sandwiching together with ice cream! These can be made ahead and stored in the freezer for late night cravings. And trust me, you will have late night cravings. These things are delicious!


40 minutes

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  • Reply
    Emmy (Wine and Butter)
    December 20, 2011 at 3:47 am

    I’ve never heard of these but I am the worlds biggest fan of ice cream sandwiches. Im going back home (to San Fran) for xmas too and absolutely cannot wait to fly into my mums arms.. 🙂 xox

  • Reply
    December 20, 2011 at 4:18 am

    I’m not a huge black licorice fan, but a few times a year I get really strong cravings for it. Very odd. I’ll bookmark this recipe for when the craving strikes. 🙂

  • Reply
    Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    December 20, 2011 at 4:20 am

    Your cookies look awesome and good luck with all the airport travel over the holidays. I think it’s great you’re trying to do both families houses and spend time with both sides. I hope you pack lots of extra cookies in your carryon (but maybe not these with the ice cream centers…haha!) 🙂

  • Reply
    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    December 20, 2011 at 4:45 am

    I’ve never had pfeffernusse before but I love the sounds of the spiciness (I’m a cinnamon-a-holic!) Good luck with doing the whole split-Christmas thing!

  • Reply
    Blog is the New Black
    December 20, 2011 at 4:47 am

    Ha, I was wondering how to prounouce that! These look amazing… love anise anything!

  • Reply
    Molly @ RDexposed
    December 20, 2011 at 4:49 am

    A few random things here:
    1. I am a beagle lover so when I see puggles, I apologize to them (to myself) for having to be part pug (even though I find pugs cute!). ha
    2. I thought driving up to Madison, WI and down to Bloomington, IL to split up Christmases was a lot of traveling. You have disproved this.
    3. I just spread the joy of anise at the grocery store when the cashier asked what you do with it. I should go back and tell him about anise extract in cookies!

  • Reply
    December 20, 2011 at 5:02 am

    I must make these.

    And I wanted to mention a fantastic smoothie I made recently. I add oatmeal (about 1/2 cup soaked overnight in almond milk) to the smoothie along with a banana, sunflower seed butter (love), more almond milk, and some protein powder. So good!

    I’ll never have another smoothie without oatmeal or cereal again. It really gives it a great doughy feeling that is pleasing on the stomach (I find grain-less smoothies to be too “airy” and give me belching).

  • Reply
    December 20, 2011 at 5:04 am

    I’m obsessed with licorice…anisettes are my favorite Christmas cookies (also the first xmas cookie recipe I made/posted about this year). These look deeeevine!

    Welcome back to the East Coast 🙂

  • Reply
    Lauren @ What Lauren Likes
    December 20, 2011 at 5:16 am

    Best word ever! Haha these look amazing!

  • Reply
    kathleen @ the daily crumb
    December 20, 2011 at 5:17 am

    you learn something new everyday! i had no idea what pfeffernuesse even meant before this post 🙂 everything looks delicious, glad you are home snuggling with mikan 🙂

  • Reply
    Julie @ Table for Two
    December 20, 2011 at 5:23 am

    welcome back to the east coast 🙂 these cookies look great! my boyfriend’s family lives outside of Atlanta and we’re planning on going to Savannah one of these days. I went when I was younger and I want to go back. It’s so beautiful there!

  • Reply
    Kelly K
    December 20, 2011 at 6:16 am

    These look amazing! I don’t think I’d ever had a pfefferneuse until I met my husband’s family they are all Danish, is a Scandinavian or German thing? I digress. I think everyone should try these, I love them and I’m not a particularly big fan of black licorice, these are different in some way. SO happy that you are home with your family, that’s what the holidays are all about! Merry Christmas!

    • Reply
      December 20, 2011 at 7:36 am

      Lol, my husband is Danish as well! We live in Denmark now, and after a year I’ve become addicted to the salty licorice that’s so popular here. I definitely think it’s a Scandinavian thing….combinations you would normally not think of!

      • Reply
        Ella, RD
        December 20, 2011 at 7:56 am

        My family has Swedish and German roots, and we always had these cookies around at the holidays! Northern/Western European, perhaps?

  • Reply
    December 20, 2011 at 6:17 am

    So funny you posted these day because I just mentioned pfeffernusse in my comment on yesterday’s post! Hope you have a wonderful holidays with both of your families 😉

  • Reply
    Rebecca @ Naturally Healthy and Gorgeous
    December 20, 2011 at 6:18 am

    Those look so good and fluffy!

  • Reply
    December 20, 2011 at 6:21 am

    I believe the split Christmas plan is worth it; this is my second year with my husband and I sharing the holiday. Christmas Day we fly to his family and get to celebrate all over again! The older I get, the more the holiday is just about time spent with family. So enjoy all the family time (and I’m sure, the delicious food too!)

  • Reply
    December 20, 2011 at 6:30 am

    Wow. And I was complaining about having to drive two hours to see my family and two hours another way to see BF’s. Done complaining now.

  • Reply
    December 20, 2011 at 6:32 am

    Love the ice cream inside!

  • Reply
    December 20, 2011 at 6:32 am

    ugh, sharing holidays. i feel you on that one. we moved from FL to TN this year and, rather than stress out about which family we spend christmas EVE, christmas MORNING, or christmas DAY with we’re having our own christmas in TN and then driving to FL the next day to visit with everyone – one single day doesn’t the holiday make! plus it’s true what others are saying – i’m more looking forward to just seeing and hanging out with family. and more time for you on planes just means more quality reading time! happy holidays!

  • Reply
    Joelle (on a pink typewriter)
    December 20, 2011 at 6:35 am

    Omg haha i love your travel plans- that is a LOT of flying.. totally been there! But hey- when it’s worth it, you make the running around like crazy people work. 😉 PS love ice cream cookie sandys!

  • Reply
    December 20, 2011 at 6:40 am

    I didn’t know Adam was from Texas!! Now I like him EVEN more! 🙂 What part of Texas will y’all be in? I’ll be in Dallas.

  • Reply
    December 20, 2011 at 6:43 am

    pfeffernusse is an awesome word ! Safe Christmas travels

  • Reply
    Gina @ Running to the Kitchen
    December 20, 2011 at 7:18 am

    I despise the flavor of licorice, yet love anise. No idea how that works. I think I’m just going to be saying “pfeffernusse” all day now. 🙂

  • Reply
    amy walters, aDESIGNdock
    December 20, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Aah….this pfeffernusse takes #1 with it’s ice cream mid-section! LOL. Love it Jenna.

  • Reply
    December 20, 2011 at 7:29 am

    I smell an engagement!

  • Reply
    Mel @ Post Grad Mel
    December 20, 2011 at 7:45 am

    I’ m so happy for you to be home with your parents! I always love seeing photos of your travels (especially Savannah, since I love it there). Merry (early) Christmas to you!

  • Reply
    Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove
    December 20, 2011 at 7:57 am

    I’ve never heard of these cookies before but anything with ice cream is a-ok in my book! Enjoy the holidays with both parents!

  • Reply
    Andrea @ The Skinny Chronicles
    December 20, 2011 at 8:29 am

    I am so glad you made it home safe and sound. There’s nothing quite like being home for the holidays. Now you can recoup after all that cookie baking! Phew.

  • Reply
    Leslie Means @ Her View From Home
    December 20, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Yum!! Have a very Merry Christmas! How fantastic that you are able to visit family! 🙂

  • Reply
    December 20, 2011 at 8:48 am

    This is my first Christmas staying in California! Change is always challenging, exciting and fun.

  • Reply
    Deanna B.
    December 20, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Anything with hazelnuts and I am there. I tried saying pfeffernusse three times hoping some cookies would appear, but no such luck.

  • Reply
    Krissy @ Krissy's Creaions
    December 20, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Spending time with each family during the Holidays is always the hardest. Me and my husband go to each side of our family during Thanksgiving and Christmas and it’s always *crazy*! But it worth it to make the hubby happy. I’m sure you’ll feel the same with Adam :). Ice Cream sandwiches are one of my favorites! And yours look incredible!

  • Reply
    Laura @ She Eats Well
    December 20, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I love the idea of this cookie. It is nice to bring in those flavors, especially this time of year when I feel like everything is oh so decadent and rich and chocolatey…not that I am complaining. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sarah (I Dream of Beets)
    December 20, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I love these cookies! Happy travelling and happy holiday time splitting. My boyfriend’s parents are coming out here; I’m a little sad that I don’t get to see my family, but I guess this is part of the compromise of having a relationship!

  • Reply
    December 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    These look amazing! So yumm.

  • Reply
    December 20, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    NEVER thought to put pepper into a cookie!! And I’ve never worked with anise extract before, but all of these flavors make so much sense together! And of course who doesn’t love cookies and ice cream?

  • Reply
    Sally @ Spontaneous Hausfrau
    December 20, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    I love big, fat, homey looking ice-cream sandwiches and these meet all those requirements. Yum!

  • Reply
    December 21, 2011 at 4:30 am

    Freshly grated nutmeg is so much better than nutmeg powder. I just use my microplane to grate the little flavor bombs. We may break up if I see that nutmeg powder again…

  • Reply
    Carissa @ ChoiceSustenance
    December 21, 2011 at 7:38 am

    My family has always used anise exclusively in pizzelles. All other pizzelles pale in comparison to the anise ones! I think we’re going to love these. What’s with anise and hard to pronounce cookie names? Hmmm…

  • Reply
    December 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    thank you, jenna. i’ve been wondering what kind of german treat to make for christmas eve. we are having a very traditional norwegian style christmas eve but i always like to have a little something special for my husband who grew up celebrating christmas german style. merry christmas!!

  • Reply
    Cookie Days #2: Pfeffernusse « The Pajama Chef
    December 22, 2011 at 5:07 am

    […] way back. Back to to old Germany, in fact!I was first introduced to the Pfeffernusse [rhymes with beetlejuice] by Ben. Apparently they are a Christmas tradition in his family. I had never heard of these […]

  • Reply
    Judith Scott
    December 22, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Out here in California, I am spending 12+ hours each way, taking the train to San Diego from SF…Really wish they get the proposed high speed rail system up and running.
    Oh well, gotta see my daughter and it beats driving. Good luck with yours, Jenna.

  • Reply
    Heidi - Apples Under My Bed
    December 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Heidi xo
    No I will write more 😉 I adore pfeffernusse. Love the different look of these, and the intense spice with the ice-cream must be ooooooh heavenly. Gorgeous. Loving these festive baking posts, absolutely loving them.

  • Reply
    jenny eats nutella from a spoon
    December 23, 2011 at 1:46 am

    this looks amazing…

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