I suspect the title of my blog may have already given it away, but I must tell you there are few tastes I adore more than black pepper. Its subtle heat can breathe life into the blandest of foods, and I love the way it warms the palate on a cool day. As a child, I can scarcely remember an occasion when a dish containing potatoes or pasta wasn’t dusted with its coal-black grains.
I recently had the thought to incorporate my favorite spice into a type of sweet and savory cookie, and in an instant, I knew it was something worth pursuing. My experiments resulted in these petite shortbread wedges that are buttery and delicate with a gentle heat that builds with each bite. A sprinkling of turbinado sugar prior to baking provides light crunch and a sweetness that both highlights and balances the peppery kick.
Serve these versatile biscuits however you like; eat them as a stand-alone snack or incorporate them into your next brunch or evening soiree. I’m also imagining they’d pair perfectly with a serving of vanilla ice cream.
- 1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1-2 tablespoons water as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon turbinado sugar
- Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on the lowest speed setting for 15 seconds. Add in the flour, black pepper, and salt, and resume mixing until combined. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed until the dough comes together. (Crumbly dough will result in crumbly shortbread, so be sure to add enough moisture.)
- Transfer the shortbread dough to an ungreased, 9-inch round cake pan, and use your fingers to press it evenly into the pan. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
- Once chilled, sprinkle the dough evenly with turbinado sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 25-27 minutes until the edges just start to become golden.
- Remove the pan from the oven and immediately cut into 16 wedges using a sharp knife. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely before serving.
Tips and Tidbits
- This recipe can be used as a springboard for numerous variations. Reduce the black pepper if you wish, and add in whatever seasonings sound good to you. Minced fresh herbs or finely grated cheese would be scrumptious if you want to make them a bit more savory.
- It may seem unnecessary to chill the dough for a half hour, especially if you are in a hurry, but I assure you, it’s worth the wait. I tested two identical batches, chilling one and baking the other right away, and the difference in texture was quite noticeable. The chilled version held together better, too.