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When I walked into a couple of different Aldi stores in my area on the day that Advent calendars hit the shelves, I noticed that the calendars weren’t the only highly anticipated products showing up that day. An entire section of shelving had been reserved for the Winternacht line of Aldi products, and several employees were busily filling the shelves with all kinds of treats ranging from stollen and spekulatius to gingerbread, chocolates, and panettone.
Winternacht means “winter night” in German, which is fitting because Aldi is a grocery store with German roots. Winternacht is not a company. Instead, it’s the private label Aldi puts on various Christmas goodies, many of which are imported from Germany. Winternacht is one of the less commonly seen store brands at Aldi because these products only show up around the holidays.
I’ve been slowly working my way through some of the more popular Winternacht products each year. Most recently, I bought some pfeffernüsse to try at home. What are pfeffernüsse? Read on to learn about this German holiday cookie.
Winternacht Pfeffernüsse is a Seasonal Item, which means it’s in stores for a few months, but Aldi does not stock it all year. This is a product of Germany.
Winternacht Pfeffernüsse cost $2.99 for a 7.05-ounce bag at the time of publication. With six 3-cookie servings per package, that comes out to about 50 cents per serving, or about 42 cents per ounce.
The Aldi package describes these as “iced gingerbread cookies.”
Pfeffernüsse date back to 1753 and are small heavily spiced cookies that are common in Germany during the holidays. You’ll also find similar cookies in Denmark and The Netherlands. The word translates to “pepper nuts,” although they don’t traditionally contain nuts, and the term may simply refer to the fact that you can pop these small cookies in your mouth similar to eating a handful of nuts.
They usually contain spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, black pepper, anise, and mace, and they’re sweetened with molasses, sugar, and/or honey. They tend to have a chewy interior achieved through leavening agents such as baking soda (sodium bicarconate), baking powder, potassium carbonate, or ammonium carbonate. Some variations are also covered in icing, as the Aldi pfeffernüsse are.
If you’re looking out for allergens, the Aldi pfeffernüsse contain wheat and milk. They may contain tree nuts, soy, peanuts, sesame, and egg. These also contain pork gelatin.
The full list of ingredients for the Aldi pfeffernüsse includes unbleached wheat flour, glucose fructose syrup, sugar, potato starch, spices (it would be helpful if Aldi actually listed what spices, although we can guess at some), caramel, potassium carbonate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, ammonium bicarbonate (an above-mentioned leavening agent), sunflower oil, gelatin (pork), lactic acid, and whey protein concentrate.
One bag contains about six 3-cookie servings. One serving has 110 calories, 0.5 grams of total fat (1% DV), no saturated fat, less than 5 mg of cholesterol (0% DV), 20 mg of sodium (1% DV), 26 grams of total carbohydrates (10% DV), no dietary fiber, 15 grams of total sugars, 14 grams of added sugars (29% DV), and 2 grams of protein.
These have a chewy interior texture with crisp icing on the outside. They also have a strong flavor, with anise or licorice seeming to dominate. My family likes certain types of gingerbread, and this is like a strongly flavored gingerbread. This pfeffernüsse was fine, but it wouldn’t be our first choice from amongst the Winternacht products at Aldi. It may be an acquired taste, or something you like if you’ve grown up with it.
Since it’s my first time trying it, I cannot speak to how authentic this is compared to what your German grandmother might make. Still, one of the things I like about Aldi is how it gives me many opportunities to try new foods from other countries.
Despite the fact that it isn’t our favorite, my family did finish it off in a few days. It can be a good accompaniment to a cup of hot coffee, tea, of cocoa.
Winternacht Pfeffernüsse is an iced gingerbread type of cookie imported from Germany. These have a strong licorice or anise flavor, so if that’s your thing, you might like these. Just keep in mind that they’re only at Aldi during the winter holidays, so if you discover you love them, you might want to stock up.