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Photo: Greg Dupree
Active time 30 mins
Total time 1 hr

Serves 40 (serving size: 1 cookie)

These traditional German Christmas cookies are made with chopped nuts, citrus, and a variety of warm spices including the pepper that gives the cookies their name. Greenspan describes the spices as having “a slow build and a long finish.” The chocolate glaze makes them absolutely irresistible, a twist Dorie added—along with a hint of espresso—to complement the other flavorings and add creaminess. This recipe comes from Greenspan’s latest cookbook, Dorie’s Cookies ($35, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Greenspan provides ingredient weights in grams, an approach we love because it’s more precise than using ounces and fractions. We also tested whole-wheat pastry flour (Bob’s Red Mill) in these cookies—using an equal weight—and it worked very well. If the dough sticks to your skin, form balls with lightly moistened hands.


  • 272 grams all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (black or white)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 134 grams sugar (about 2/3 cup)
  • Grated rind of 2 tangerines or clementines, 1 orange, or 1 lemon
  • 85 grams unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature (about 3/4 stick)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 60 grams finely chopped pecans, toasted (about 1/2 cup)
  • 85 grams bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (about 3 oz.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground espresso beans or 1/4 tsp. instant espresso
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

Nutrition Information

  • calories 78
  • fat 4.2 g
  • satfat 1.9 g
  • monofat 1.2 g
  • polyfat 0.5 g
  • protein 1 g
  • carbohydrate 10 g
  • fiber 1 g
  • cholesterol 15 mg
  • iron 0.0 mg
  • sodium 38 mg
  • calcium 6 mg
  • sugars 4 g
  • Est. Added Sugars 4 g

How to Make It

  1. Set racks to divide oven into thirds; preheat to 350°F.

  2. Whisk together first 10 ingredients in a bowl. Combine sugar and rind in bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl (if using a hand mixer). Using your hands, rub sugar mixture together until moist and aromatic. Add 85 grams butter to bowl; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes or until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. (It's OK if mixture looks curdled.) Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Add spice mixture; pulse a few times, and then mix on low until most of flour is incorporated. Add nuts; mix until dry ingredients have just disappeared into dough. Turn dough with spatula a few times to blend.

  3. Scoop rounded mounds of dough (about 2 teaspoons each) onto each of 2 baking sheets, setting the mounds about 1 1/2 inches apart, to form 40 mounds. Shape each into a ball between your palms (dough will be sticky).

  4. Bake 20 minutes or until firm to a gentle squeeze, puffed, cracked, and golden brown on bottom; rotate pans top to bottom and front to back after 10 minutes. Remove pans from oven, and place on wire racks.

  5. Place a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water (water shouldn't touch bottom of bowl). Add chocolate and espresso; heat, stirring, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from pan; stir in 1 tablespoon butter until blended. Dip tops of cookies in chocolate; place on rack until set (about 20 minutes).

Recipe from Dorie's Cookies copyright 2016 by Dorie Greenspan. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Rux Martin Books. All rights reserved.