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Dec 19, 2013 05:22 AM

Pfeffernüsse (German holiday cookies)

Where in the five boroughs can I get pfeffernüsse around this time of year, and which places make especially great versions?

Do any of the old German bakeries in the Ridgewood/Glendale/Middle Village area of Queens, such as Rudy's Pastry Shop, make these cookies? I've heard that Stammtisch Pork Store in Glendale and Morscher's Pork Store in Ridgewood may carry prepackaged German cookies, so those might be options if I can't find a good locally made version.

What about the few remaining German bakeries in the Yorkville section of the Upper East Side, such as Glaser's Bake Shop?

I also saw an old CH post from 2006 which mentioned that the longtime Danish bakery in Bay Ridge, Leske's Bakery, might make pfeffernüsse (or at least the Danish counterpart, pebernødder) and stollen during the holidays. Can anyone confirm this, and if so, vouch for their quality? Is the Danish pebernødder markedly different from the German preparation?

Any chance that a Danish restaurant such as Aamanns-Copenhagen in Tribeca would serve these cookies?

For those who aren't familiar with pfeffernüsse:

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  1. I have not had them so I can't attest to their flavor ... But there's a little shop in the Columbus Circle holiday markets (manhattan) that carries German specialties including pfeffernusse.

    1. I think I have had the pfeffernusse from Leske's and was not thrilled, Frankly, I liked the commercial versions from Germany - and the ones from Trader Joes better.

      Leske's stollen and kringle are another story - wonderful

      2 Replies
      1. re: jen kalb

        Thanks for the tips, guys. I had no idea Trader Joe's made a good version of pfeffernüße, nor was I aware of the German shop in the Columbus Circle holiday market.

        I'll definitely look into those suggestions.

        1. re: italianices

          I dont have the expertise to say that TJ's is great, only that to my taste it was better than what I had at Leskes. Leske's stollen has been wonderful, buttery and good, though. HOpe you report back on what you found.

      2. Rudy's had them on display when I stopped by several weeks ago. I enjoyed a batch last year, but I don't know pfeffernüsse well enough to say how they stack up against your memories of holidays past.

        Dave Cook

        1. Christmas time calls out for Melomakarona.

          These Greek Christmas cookies will delight you just as much as the Pfeffernüsse will and maybe more. The best Melomakarona can be had at Artopolis in Astoria. Artopolis also has these crescent-shaped cookies covered with confectioners sugar that are very good. Try those too. Happy Holidays!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Cheese Boy

            The melomakarona at Artopolis are indeed terrific, Cheese Boy; thanks for reminding me to stop by Astoria this weekend.

            And Dave Cook, I appreciate the feedback about Rudy's. I figured a place like that would carry pfeffernüße.

            Thanks again for the feedback, everyone, and Happy Holidays.

          2. Just a quick update:

            I ended up trying the pfeffernüsse from Glaser's Bake Shop in Yorkville/UES and Rudy's Pastry Shop in Ridgewood, Queens. I thought the ones from Glaser's were much better (did a side-by-side taste test), although to be fair, the flavor and texture were different enough that it was about personal preference as much as anything else.

            The cookies from Glaser's had a noticeably spicier flavor and darker colored interior and were covered in white, powdery confectioner's sugar. The texture was crumbly, which I prefer for these types of cookies, rather than chewy. Overall, this was a very solid version.

            Meanwhile, the cookies from Rudy's were a bit smaller, only moderately spicy, slightly less dark inside, chewy rather than crumbly, and were covered with a hard white frosting that added a hint of crunch to each bite. I definitely did not like these as much as the ones from Glaser's in terms of taste and texture. To be honest, the combination of spices used in Rudy's version tasted a bit "off" to me in comparison to the ones at Glaser's even though the flavor was more subdued.

            We ended up finishing the pfeffernüsse from Glaser's on the day of purchase, then I continued to work on the leftovers from Rudy's over the next few days. While I still felt Rudy's version was inferior to Glaser's, the taste and texture did grow on me somewhat.

            The cookies at both bakeries were sold in small plastic bags that were tied at the top and contained about a dozen cookies; these bags were displayed on a shelf rather than in a glass case. I presume they were made the same day, but am not 100% sure.

            The pfeffernüsse were available at Glaser's until Saturday December 21st; after that, you could still obtain them through mid-afternoon Christmas Eve via special advance order. The ones at Rudy's were still available during the daytime on Christmas Eve. I picked up a second batch at both bakeries on Christmas Eve for that night and the following day.

            Thanks again to everyone for the help. And by the way, while my friends and family enjoyed the pfeffernüsse - almost everyone preferred Glaser's version, although several people liked Rudy's version more than I did - the melomakarona from Artopolis were an even bigger hit. I actually didn't know they were a Christmas specialty until Cheese Boy mentioned this fact, but in the future I'm definitely going to stock up on these around the holidays.

            2 Replies
            1. re: italianices

              Thanks for taste-testing pfeffernüsse, Italianices, and thanks for adding the melomakarona wild card, Cheese Boy!

              1. re: DaveCook

                I'm happy to share the love for Melomakarona. : - )