Showing posts with label spice cookies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spice cookies. Show all posts

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pepper Spice Cookies

Years ago, when I donned pantyhose every day and worked in an office, my favorite trick for baking lots of Christmas cookies was to make several batches of dough in one night and pop them in the refrigerator. After all, many cookie doughs need to be refrigerated before they can be rolled out anyway. That way, I was ahead of the game. When I had the time, I rolled out the dough, cut out the cookies, and baked them.

I discovered these Spice Cookies in GOURMET'S SWEETS a few years ago. They're not specifically Christmas cookies, but all the wonderful spices in them make them perfect for Christmas.

Don't be afraid of the pepper. It's there, but surprisingly subtle. The original recipe calls for coarsely ground pepper but I prefer to use finely ground pepper. It also calls for a pinch of cayenne, but I go back and forth on that ingredient, so consider it optional. Sort of like gingersnaps, they're not meant to be iced or decorated, but if you want, you can pipe a little icing around the edges.

They hold up nicely, too. Two weeks in an airtight container at room temperature, longer in the refrigerator.

Gourmet calls them Spice Cookies, but I like the name Pepper Spice Cookies because Spice Cookies conjures up something entirely different in my mind. Their recipe involves a complicated and time-consuming method of rolling the dough out between two sheets of wax paper, refrigerating, then cutting them out, refrigerating again, and then baking. Who has time for all that?

The dough will be sticky when you

make it. I divide it in half, wrap in wax paper and pop in the fridge for a couple of hours. When you roll it out, you'll see that it's a very soft dough. Just flour a sheet of wax paper and your rolling pin and add flour as necessary to roll it out. It works just
Almost no cleanup!
fine that way.

This is a great time to remind you that I'm still looking for Christmas Cookie recipes. The winners will have their names and recipes published in the 2014 Domestic Diva Mystery! Preference will be given to family recipes that have been handed down. An impartial group of my family and friends will be choosing the winners.

Please send your recipes to Krista at KristaDavis dot com. If there's a story behind the recipe, I'd love to hear it. If the recipe is from a cookbook, please tell me the title and author. If the recipe is from a website, please include a link.

Good luck, everyone!

Spice Cookies
(from Gourmet's Sweets)
(makes 32 - 42 cookies depending on the size of the cookie cutter)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
pinch of cayenne (optional)

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg

Mix the flour with the baking powder and spices in a bowl. Set aside.

Cream the butter with the sugar. Beat in the egg. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat.

Divide the dough roughly in half. Wrap both pieces in wax paper, flattening them a bit. Store in refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350. Dust a sheet of wax paper and the rolling pin lightly with flour. Roll out, adding flour as necessary to make the dough manageable. Cut into shapes. Bake on parchment paper for 10 - 12 minutes. Wait for Santa to arrive.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Kinder, Gentler Pfeffernüsse from Cleo Coyle

Like any recipe that's been around for several hundred years, there are countless variations of the German cookie pfeffernüsse (aka "pepper nuts"), and I've made several. Some bakers, for example, put finely chopped nuts into their "pepper nuts. Some don't. 
Cleo Coyle, baker of
a kinder, gentler
pfeffernüsse, and author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
Some bakers like to add a potent amount of black or white pepper into the cookie, giving them very peppery bite. Some add ground cloves. 

The version I'm sharing with you today is my favorite way to make it: soft on the inside but with a light crispness on the outside shell. No nuts to take away from the contrast of spicy, delicious gingerbread flavor with the sweet dusting of powdered sugar.

My version also takes a kinder, gentler approach to the spice aspect, using only a pinch of pepper and leaning more heavily on the ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. (Allspice, I find, delivers that ground clove flavor at a much lower price.)

BTW: I've encountered people who are under the impression that allspice is a spice mix (like pumpkin pie spice). Not so. Allspice is actually a pea-sized berry that mimics the flavors of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The berry comes from the evergreen pimiento tree, grown in South America and the West Indies, including Jamaica.

Cleo Coyle's Pfeffernüsse "Pepper Nuts"
German gingerbread snowball cookies

To get a free PDF version of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, just click here.


3 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 pinches of ground white (or black) pepper 
¾ cup butter (1-1/2 sticks), softened
½ cup white, granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses, unsulphered (not blackstrap!)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered (confectioners' or icing) sugar (for double-dusting)

Yields: 4 to 5 dozen cookies, depending on size

Mix the dough: Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and ground spices. Set aside. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in egg, molasses, and vanilla. Now gradually add in the dry flour mixture, blending just until the dough comes together. (Do not overwork this dough or you’ll produce gluten in the flour, which will toughen your cookies.)

Chill the dough: Form dough into a disc or ball. Wrap in plastic and allow to rest in refrigerator for two hours or overnight. (The resting allows the dough to hydrate and the flavors to develop for better tasting cookies.)

Bake the cookies: When ready to bake, break off small pieces of dough and roll into balls. I make mine a little less than 1-inch in diameter. If you prefer a softer cookie, roll balls larger. Bake 12 to 16 minutes, depending on oven and whether you’re using parchment or a silicon sheet. You’re looking for the cookies to bake up a nice, golden brown and crack slightly on the surface. For softer cookies, underbake them.

Cleo’s double dusting: While the cookies are still very warm, roll them in powdered sugar. The heat of each cookie will melt the sugar into a lovely, light crust of glaze. After the cookies have cooled a bit more, roll them a second time and you’ll have your final snowball dusting. These are the perfect treat to leave for Santa on a snowy Christmas Eve.

Storage tips: Make sure your cookies are completely cool before storing in an airtight container. When cookies are stored warm, condensation can occur, turning your treats soggy. Of course, you can always serve them warm and...

Eat with Joy to the World!

Merry Christmas,
  ~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes, 
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Holiday Grind: 
A Coffeehouse Mystery,
a Top-9 national mystery
bestseller in hardcover
is now a Publishers
in paperback!

by Cleo Coyle

“Fun and gripping…”
 —The Huffington Post 

“Some of the most vibrant characters I've ever read. Coyle also is a master of misdirection and red herrings. I challenge any reader to figure out whodunit before Coyle reveals all.”
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