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