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”!
(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)
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.