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Pepper-Cumin Cookies

December 31, 2010

By Kath Dedon


Bob gave me The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser a few days before Christmas. I know I’ll have a lot of fun exploring the recipes; I love reading the bits of history that Amanda adds to each one.

Carrie was home for Christmas and found a cookie recipe that she had to make: Pepper-Cumin Cookies. She was intrigued by the combination of pepper, cumin, lemon zest, and sugar in a cookie so she quickly made a batch.

With the help of a food processor, the cookies are a snap to put together. I think you could make them by hand, mixing the dough as you would a pie crust, but I haven’t tried it.

Carrie used a mortar and pestle to crack the pepper and the cumin. A quick search online produced another technique. Real Simple suggests using a garlic press to crack seeds, which I thought was a clever idea.

So how did we like the Pepper-Cumin Cookies? Carrie and I loved them! They’re quite tender and we enjoyed the interesting combination of flavors. Laura was not as impressed; she didn’t like the cumin in the cookies.

If you are a cumin lover, I encourage you to give Pepper-Cumin Cookies a try.


This photo doesn’t do these cookies justice, but I feel lucky to have gotten it. I had to label these last 3 cookies “Do not eat – need photo”!


Pepper-Cumin Cookies

(Adapted from a recipe in The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser, originally published on December 1, 1996 in a Molly O’Neill column)


(print the recipe)


Makes about 2 ½ dozen cookies.


2 cups flour

6 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon black peppercorns, cracked

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, cracked

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened slightly

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Heat the oven to 350˚.

2. Put the flour, sugar, salt, lemon zest, peppercorns, and cumin seeds in a food processor and process quickly to blend.

3. Add the butter and vanilla and process until the dough forms a ball.

4. Form the dough into 1-inch balls and put them on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Keep them about 2 inches apart and flatten each one so they’re about 1/4-inch thick.


5. Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. December 31, 2010 9:57 pm

    What a unique recipe! I would never think to add pepper to cookies, but I love trying unique and original flavor combinations. Thank you for sharing with me all that you do. I wish you many blessings and much joy in the New Year!

    • January 3, 2011 4:51 pm

      Thank you, Monet, and I wish you many blessings and joy in the New Year, too!

  2. daksha chopra permalink
    January 1, 2011 7:33 am

    really nice recipe! thanks for sharing i ‘ll try, happy new year!

  3. January 1, 2011 7:49 am

    Thanks for giving them a try! Hope you enjoy the rest of the book.

    • January 3, 2011 4:53 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment, Amanda! I really think your book is destined to be a classic; I know I’ll be enjoying it for many years. 🙂

  4. January 1, 2011 10:24 am

    happy new year kath! and a happy blogoversary to you too!!!! what a wonderfully unique cookie, I can just imagine the flavors!!! wishing you a splendid new year filled with wonder and joy, God Bless You!

  5. January 2, 2011 3:39 am

    Interesting cookie recipe. Wishing you lots of happiness and peace for the New Year!

  6. February 1, 2011 12:13 pm

    You know, I’ve never even heard of these but I have to give these a try! I do like cumin on occassion and it’s worth a shot. I hope you’ve been doing good my dear! I have some catching up to do! 🙂

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