Cookies & Bars

The Spice of Life

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 egg
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
White sugar

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.


39 thoughts on “The Spice of Life

  1. I love pepper in my desserts, and add it to a wide variety of them. Check out my cake via the Baker’s Bench!! The taste is simply delightful.

  2. I can almost taste the pepper via description and recipe. My grandmother made molasses cookies and the only ones I have had since, because I am cookie challenged and would eat too many, are Archway, and they are no comparison.

  3. Reminds me of when I lived in Wisconsin. I once asked someone at a dinner party if I could grind some pepper onto her steak and she said, “Oh, no, I don’t like my food to hurt.”

  4. Looking at these cookies have just made my mouth water and that’s amazing considering I am not a fan of cookies without nuts or lots of texture. But I do have a love affair with all types of pepper, so Chrystal these are IN!

  5. I have to side with Amir, I love black pepper. I tend to pepper something before I put salt on it.

    But black pepper cookies? I’m intrigued enough that I will have to make those.

  6. I love spicy cookies like this – and I frequently add pepper to a lot of my backing, but never thought to add the Grand Marnier – must try next time, you have me curious.

  7. My husband and I are like that about most things! I love crushed red pepper, he does not. I love Tabasco, he does not. I love hot peppers, he does not. See the pattern?!

    Since he doesn’t like spicy food, I tend to underseason his a bit too much though!

    Love the idea of this cookie – have a great weekend you guys!

  8. Interesting place for friction guys!… although I’m a big fan of black pepper, I must admit I have a love/hate relationship with white pepper. So, I can relate.

    That said, these cookies look wonderful. I really like pepper in sweet preparations, so I’ll bet they’d be right up my alley.

  9. I really love black pepper, especially cracked whole peppercorns. Love it with strawberries, reduced balsamic and goat cheese. Great recipe, thanks!

  10. I love the flavor of black pepper, it’s not actually all that hot just a robust pop. YUM!
    I just posted peppered cashews to make with kids and they rock!!

  11. Pepper in cookies?! That’s definitely new to me. I actually squnited to make sure that there were any visible signs of pepper in those cookies in the pic. hahaha… I like the concept. This one is definitely in the books of things to try.

  12. I have heard about using pepper in desserts but have never tried it myself. Definitely on my to do list for this year. These look fantastic.

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