Looking like snowballs ready for throwing, these spicy cookies are made of a dough similar to a ginger snap and are every bit as spicy. The American snowball cookie is more like the Russian Tea Cookie or Mexican Wedding Cookie as they are made of a shortbread dough with a sandy texture. My first encounter with them as a child left me less than impressed. It wasn’t until ALDI imported them from Germany and I was brave enough to try them again that I found my liking for these festive treats.
Pfeffernusse are semi hard, more bitter than the Russian Tea Cookie but not anywhere near as bitter as the cookies of my youth. The lesson there? Accept no substitutions. Americans really get heavy handed with the idea that if a little bit is good, a lot more is better. This is not true in so many cases I wonder why we persist in thinking it. These imports are perfectly balanced. Just the right amount of spice, a hint of candied fruit and a perfect robe of frosting make these things crunch and go down so much nicer that what I remember as a child. Bitter is good contrast to the sweet vanilla frosting. But the bitter I remember from my childhood would scrape the taste buds from your mouth! Ungeeignet!!
There are a good many recipe resources and I would trust this one from Martha Stewart. As I am running out of time for baking, I bought these at ALDI. But I do encourage you to make your own. Especially if you have a recipe from a family cookbook.