To paraphrase Shakespeare, the worm has turned. The curse upon my baking skills, I am happy to report, has been lifted. I can uncross the rolling pins, remove the garlic from the front door. I’m back and I’m baking with success again. I made pizza crust last weekend and it worked. I made Caramel Fudge Cake. It worked. I made Pan de Jerez and it worked.
I’m feeling pretty good about myself.
I put off this celebratory post for several days just to be sure I had my chops back. And they’re here.
So , this week’s baking post is about cookies. Not just any old cookie. A Black Pepper Cookie. I’m very picky about my black peppercorns. I do a mix of three types: the Indian Tellicherry black, the robust Sarawak black and the Malabar Indian black peppercorns. The strength of the pepper flavor depends on how long the pepper is left on the vine and these are three peppercorns that stay the longest, therefore make a spicy addition to any food.
These cookies have freshly ground pepper from my mix, freshly grated ginger, cloves, cinnamon and for a little lasting surprise for the taste buds…a pinch of cayenne.
These are wonderful with a bit of St Andre cheese to completely knock your socks off!
Black Pepper Cookies
Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 tsp double acting baking powder
½ pound (1 cup) softened butter
¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground cloves
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1-½ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 400.
Sift together flour and baking powder. Set aside. In large bowl of electric mixer, cream butter. Beat in the black pepper, cayenne pepper, cloves, cinnamon and fresh ginger. Scrape the bowl with spatula as necessary to keep mixture smooth while beating in the sugar, egg and on lowest speed, the sifted dry ingredients. When completely blended, remove from mix to a board or smooth surface. Knead lightly. Divide dough into three pieces. Work with one piece at a time. Do not chill the dough before rolling.
On a piece of parchment paper or silpat, roll out cookies to a ¼ inch thickness. Cut out with 2-½ inch round cutter. Transfer with a metal spatula to unbuttered cookie sheet, and place about 3/4inches apart.
Bake 8 minutes til lightly browned. Remove from pan with spatula and put on rack to cool. If you cook more than one sheet at a time, cook a bit longer.
Makes two dozen cookies, or more if you use a smaller cookie cutter.