Tag Archives: German

Hutty Cutty Ginger Cookies

Yes, I know Halloween is past, but….

When I discovered that I had not put any gingerbread or ginger cookie recipes on Ancestors in Aprons, I realized what a serious oversight that was.  Gingerbread was a very early type of cookie* , and with the holidays coming, we want to find the best possible recipe for gingerbread boys. Today it is Hutty Cutty Cookies.

Ginger Cookies

Ginger Cookies decorated for Halloween

Stay tuned–this week, a recipe from the 1920’s America, next week, a German spice mixture for Gingerbread cookies, and the following week a genuine Ginger Cookie recipe from Germany that utilizes that special spice mixture.

I flipped through my go-to old recipe book**–the one that belonged to my Great Aunt Maude–and found not one but SEVERAL Ginger cookie recipes–Ginger Snaps, Soft Ginger Cookies, Molasses Wafers, Ginger Bolivars (like Ginger Snaps except with molasses instead of sugar), not to mention ginger cake and four kinds of ginger bread and Ginger Gems.

But the one I could not resist had the puzzling name of Hutty Cutty Ginger Cookies. What or who is Hutty Cutty? Beats me. Beats Google, too.  The closest I found to an answer was a letter to a Chicago newspaper asking about a children’s story from the 20s called Hutty Cutty. Sounds like a likely source, and if your researching skills are better than mine, PLEASE let me know who/what Hutty Cutty is and what it/he/she has to do with Ginger Cookies.

I like to compare lots of more modern recipes before baking or cooking an old recipe, and in this case I learned something from Joy of Cooking that I have somehow missed all these years.  Instead of rolling the cookies out on a floured cloth or sheet of whatever and transferring them to the pan–roll them out on a lightly-greased pan and cut them there. What a revelation!  It worked just great for these cookies.  Just don’t try it on a pan coated to be stick-proof, or you’ll damage the coating.

Although I don’t include the frosting in the recipe below, I frosted these with a simple confectioner’s sugar glaze (just mix in drops of water until you get the texture you want) and then sprinkled with orange sugar and made faces with one of those little tubes of decorating gel. It doesn’t go far and is rather expensive, so I’d recommend making your own, or dipping a toothpick in melted chocolate for the face on the jack-o-lantern.

Gingerbread Hutty Cutty Cookies

Serves 30+
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 1 hour
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
Occasion Halloween, Thanksgiving
From book Buffalo Evening News Cooking School Cook Book
Control the spiciness and make them soft or crispy--delicious gingerbread cookies.


  • 3/4 cups sugar ((white or brown))
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/8 cups molasses
  • 3/8 cups honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 tablespoons ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/8 teaspoons salt
  • 4 1/4 cups flour


1. Whisk together flour, soda, baking powder and spices
2. Melt butter over low heat. Meanwhile, beat eggs. Let butter get cool and add, eggs and sweeteners.
3. Add flour mixture. Stir well. Put bowl in refrigerator for 2 hours to overnight.
4. When ready to bake, either roll and cut shapes, or form balls and flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in flour.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes--more if you like them crispier.


I made quite a few changes in the original recipe for Hutty Cutty Gingerbread Cookies from the Buffalo Cooking School Cook Book. First I cut it in 1/4 because the original called for 14 or 15 cups of flour, which would have had me baking all day! I used more flour than called for, because their proportions resulted in a very sticky mass. They did not suggest refrigerating the dough, so I don't know how you could roll it.

I changed the method of mixing, rather than creaming the butter and sugar, melting the butter and all the sweeteners blends them better in my opinion.

You control the spice mix. I added a bit of ground cloves to kick up the spiciness, and you can adjust as you like.  I also used brown sugar although the original recipe did not specify brown.

You also control crispiness by how thin you make the cookies and how long you cook them.  I rolled my cookies to slightly over 1/8" for cutting and baked just over 20 minutes (stoves vary, so you'll just have to keep an eye on them).  Mine came out soft, but not cakey, and have stayed a nice soft texture for several days.

The pumpkin cut-out cookies in the picture are approximately 3 1/2 " wide and I got 30 cookies, plus scraps to make a half dozen smaller round cookies besides.

The spice taste kicks up a bit after they have been stored in an air tight container for a while.

*For more history of cookies see the Kindle edition of Cookie: A Love Story: Fun Facts, Delicious Stories, Fascinating History, Tasty Recipes, and More About Our Most Beloved Treat, by Brette Sember.

**Still available from used book dealers:The Home Makers’ Cooking School Cook Book (It was apparently published by many newspapers, those who carried the author’s columns)

Note:  The links here lead to Amazon, because I am an Amazon affiliate. If you buy anything through those links, even though it costs you no more, I make a few cents to support Ancestors, and I thank you for your support.


Christmas Cookies: Pfefferneuse (and a Confession)

Although this recipe for pfefferneuse cookies does not go back generations in my family as far as I know, it should. I feel justified in calling it a traditional cookie since its roots are Dutch and German and my own paternal line is German.

Pfefferneuse cookies and ornaments

Ornaments from our travels to Holland, Switzerland and Germany on the tray with pfefferneuse cookies.

Not only that, but I learned from the Internet, that pfefferneuse is a traditional cookie among Mennonites. My father-in-law, a Mennonite whose family came from German Switzerland, loved these cookies. He said they were his favorite among all the ones I made.  And they are  a tradition in our household ever since the late 1960s. I know that because of a little incident that I’m going to confess to in a minute.

According to my findings on the web, pfefferneuse (pepper nuts) are traditionally eaten on the date of Sinterklas–December 5 or 6 in Holland or Germany–when Sinterklas (our Santa) delivers the goods. I’m not sure where I got this recipe, which diverges from the mid-19th century origins,mainly because it does not contain pepper–which is the pfeffer in the name. Instead, it relies on other spices and anise for its peppery goodness. It also calls for coffee (although I rarely have any around so I use water or tea) and it uses some butter, which makes it a bit lighter.

But the more I searched, the more I became aware that there are approximately a zillion different ways to make a cookie that is called pfefferneuse. And of course anyone who makes the cookies a different way than you do, will refuse to acknowledge yours as genuine.  See for example, this Pinterest page.

Pfefferneuse being glazed.

Pfefferneuse cookies being glazed.

Powdered sugar, glaze or bare naked? Almonds, walnuts, or no nuts at all. Baking soda, baking powder or the original ammonium carbonate? Shortening or not? It can drive you crazy.

You can see in the picture below that, as usual, I make the cookies too large. Despite trying to rein in the size, every year, I forget how much they spread. Some year, I’d like to keep the cookie small enough that it really is a little ball instead of a flat cookie.

Now the confession of wrongdoing in the kitchen. Once upon a time when I was a young mother, my husband and I got an invitation to go to a holiday event that was somehow related to his job.  Unfortunately, I had forgotten that I had put pfefferneuse dough in the refrigerator to cool, and was running out of time to get the cookies baked  and glazed before company arrived.

So when the baby sitter arrived, and I was in my spikey high heels and bouffant hair-do, all ready to go out on the town, I informed her that not only was she watching my three little darlings–but she also needed to shape, bake and glaze several dozen cookies.  For this she was being paid fifty cents an hour, mind you.

To this day, I have no idea whether she had ever baked anything before in her life, and I can’t believe I would just dump this job on somebody who already had their hands full with watching three ornery boys. She must have really needed the few dollars she was going to make.

Pfferneuse ready to bake

Pfferneuse ready to bake

I explained to her how to shape the cookies with floured hands, told her she could wait until the boys went to bed, and put the cookies out on a cookie rack.  The cookies turned out great. I don’t know if she ever baby sat for us again.

Pfefferneuse Fruit Cake Cookies

Serves 6 dozen
Allergy Tree Nuts
Meal type Dessert
Occasion Christmas


  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup coffee
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup candied cherries or mixed candied fruit
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon anise seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water or rum
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar


1. Combine 1/2 C sugar, corn syrup, butter and coffee in large (3-quart) saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes.
Dry ingredients
2. Sift together flour, soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg
3. Grind or pulse in food processor candied fruit, raisins and nuts
Combine ingredients
4. When syrup has cooled, add two eggs lightly beaten, and anise flavorings. and mix well.
Combine and finish.
5. Stir in dry ingredients, then fruit mixture.
Combine and finish
6. Chill dough at least four hours--will hold for a couple of days.
7. Let dough come to room temperature, flour your hands and shape the dough into one-inch balls. Place on greased cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.
8. While cookies bake, Combine 1 C sugar, water, cream of tartar in small pan and boil until clear. Cool.
9. When glaze is cooled, whisk in 1/2 C powdered sugar.
10. Put cookie racks on waxed paper to catch drips. Dip slightly cooled cookies into glaze and set on racks. You can decorate with bits of red or green candied cherry if you wish. Let glaze harden before packing in cookie tins or plastic containers, with waxed paper between layers.


Cookies can be baked and frozen and you can warm them and add glaze when you are ready to use.

When I do not have coffee on hand, I have used strong tea, but the bitterness of the coffee adds a different flavor.

Don't make the cookies too large, as when they bake, you want them to maintain their rounded top rather than flatten out.  While I generally think the bigger the better with cookies, I believe these are better in smaller bites.