molasses-pepper cookies

4-1/2 dozen    |   
Prep Time:
20 minutes    |   
Cook Time:
15 minutes

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molasses pepper cookies

Adapted from a recipe in the San Francisco Chronicle, these are quick, simple, and a little bit sophisticated. The key is to use full-flavored dark molasses and finely ground fresh pepper; do not use bottled ground pepper. One batch makes enough cookies to take to a cookie exchange, and when baking them, stagger the pans on racks in the oven, then switch pan positions halfway through.


1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg, at room temperature
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line 3 or 4 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or in a bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat the butter, 1/2 cup white sugar, brown sugar and molasses until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg. Add the flour, salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, and beat on low until the dough comes together.

In a shallow bowl, mix the remaining pepper with the 6 tablespoons sugar. Scoop up a rounded tablespoon of the dough, roll it into a ball, then roll in the pepper-sugar mixture until coated. Repeat with remaining dough, placing balls about 2 inches apart on baking sheets. With a fork, gently flatten each ball. Bake until cookies are golden and fragrant, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on racks, then store airtight up to 3 days.