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 provides ingredient weights in grams, an approach we love because it's more precise than using ounces; a scale is key here.
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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I loved these. I had never had them before, so I didn't know if I would like them or not. I was pleasantly surprised. They're not your typical sickly-sweet Christmas cookie. They're complex and delicious. I brought them to a Christmas party and people gobbled them right up!
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