Photo by Durova/Wikimedia Commons
I'm not a Pfeffernüsse expert nor did I grow up with them so, in the moment. But we make them at the Bakehouse, and more importantly, I think really good and definitely worth checking out.
Anyways, people who know my eating habits well like to tease that I'd probably put pepper on ice cream if I could. I used to be sort of embarrassed about it. But in doing some reading on the history of pepper I was pleasantly surprised to discover that in ancient times pepper really was used as often in sweets as it was savories. Romans had recipes for fresh fruit to be soaked in wine, than boiled, along with plenty of pepper, cinnamon, and vinegar.
They also made what was called cidonitum: quinces peeled, cut, and then boiled in honey, or a blend of vinegar and honey, then spiced with black pepper and sometimes with ginger. Medieval Europeans used to pass around spice platters at the conclusion of big meals, dipping a pinch of this and bit of that in the way moderns offer up bottles of sherry or port. Indians have long used it to spice hot chai. You can still see the vestiges of this tradition in baked goods like the Sienese panpepato, (an ancient, pepper-spiked version of panforte).