There is one ingredient that causes friction between us. You could sit around and guess all day, but you’d probably never get it right, so we’ll just tell you. It’s black pepper. Amir loves it. Chrystal does not. Whenever we’re cooking together, no doubt one person will want to add pepper, and the other half will not. We can go into the reason for this another time if you’d really like to know, but right now we’re talking about how pepper works specifically in these cookies. Oh yes, there is black pepper in them and on them. Squint a bit, and you can see the black flecks sitting on top. Who would’ve known that black pepper could make a dessert blast off into the atmosphere like a NASA spaceship!
The only time either one of us has had pepper in a sweet dish is when the main item is fruit or covered with a fruity sauce. Most of us have tasted or at least read about how black pepper and berries are a match made in heaven, but pepper works with citrus too. These cookies have a slight hint of orange, which lifts the heavy sweetness of molasses and brown sugar. The pepper does the same. It wakes up your taste buds, then the heat fades away quickly. We served these at a cookie exchange party before Christmas. Call this our late holiday gift to you!
Molasses Pepper Cookies – Approx. 4 dozen
1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
1 1/2 teaspoons Grand Marnier
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 teaspoon black pepper, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the shortening, zest and sugar until fluffy, approximately 3-5 minutes. Add the molasses followed by the egg, vanilla, orange extract and Grand Marnier and combine well.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining dry ingredients (except the white sugar) together, then slowly pour into the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
3. When ready to bake, shape dough into 1 tablespoon balls, roll in white sugar and set on baking sheet. Sprinkle with extra black pepper. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.