And then, you finally taste it and absolutely love it!
That doesn’t happen to me often but it is true confession time. That really was me recently.
I hardly ever think a food or recipe doesn’t sound delicious. I am always trying new recipes and love to experiment and I cherish the hunt.
Case in point. I recently wrote an article for the Chowtown blog for The Kansas City Star on using pepper. The goal was to just encourage people to give credit to pepper, instead of always hiding it behind the salt. Pepper should not be a second fiddle and it really does taste good.
As part of that research, I wanted to mention some recipes that featured pepper. One recipe I came across gave me pause. It was from an author I truly respect, and yet, I just could not grasp the flavor.
I had used pepper in a great gingerbread cake, and yet, I was unsure of combining lemon and pepper in a cookie.
I shouldn’t have been. OMG! Addictive. Wonderful! Must make ‘em again! So I did—and again and again and again. They are that good.
Part of the fun is watching people taste them. Everyone stops and comments. There is something special in that flavor. But what? (Don’t tell them before they taste it and spoil the fun!)
Pepper in a cookie? In this sweet, chewy cookie recipe you taste just a hint of a spicy flavor behind the lemon.
I had to share this recipe with you. I really want you to make a batch and tell me what you think.
Meyer Lemon and Black Pepper Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Grated zest from 4 large Meyer lemons (or large lemons, see tip below), about ¼ cup loosely packed, finely grated zest
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (Yes, fresh ground; do not use jars of finely ground pepper)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, lemon zest, pepper and salt; set aside.
Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium –high speed, beat the butter-sugar mixture until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the egg and the vanilla.
Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until just blended.
Divide the dough in half. Roll each half of the dough into a log about 1½ inches in diameter. Wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 º F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove the plastic wrap and place a log of cookie dough on a cutting board. Slice the dough into rounds about ¼ inch thick. Place the cookies about ½ inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 11 to 13 minutes until just firm and the edges are just barely beginning to brown. The tops will be soft and use caution to not over brown. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
What are Meyer Lemons? These specialty lemons are a cross between lemons and oranges, and the flavor is a little sweeter and less acidic than our typical grocery store lemons. They look like lemons, but are a little rounder with a thin, smooth skin. Look for them next to the lemons at larger grocery stores. But, are they critical in this recipe? Yes, and no. Any lemon will work. I found the Meyer lemons created a milder flavor in the cookies—so the pepper was perfect. I could taste the pepper just a bit more and I loved it. When I made them with typical lemons, the cookies tasted more of lemon—and a little less of pepper. Still good, but I missed the pepper.
Once you grate the zest (colored portion only as the white is bitter) off the lemon, place the lemons in a zip-top bag and store in refrigerator; juice the lemons in the next week or maybe two. We often use fresh lemon juice. Try this roasted asparagus salad or our favorite winter salad recipe.
Refrigerator cookies are the ultimate convenience food. Keep the logs of cookie dough refrigerated for use within 3 days. Or freeze the logs for up to 1 month. To use the frozen dough, place the log in the refrigerator the night before using so it thaws.
Do you have trouble keeping a refrigerator log of cookies, round? I did and it bothered me. I then discovered that the rounded pan I have for baking baguettes is the perfect kitchen hack. I shape the dough into the most perfect round I can. Then, after I wrap the log in plastic wrap, I gently sit the cookie log in the rounded pan in the refrigerator. The rounded surface of the pan prevents the edge from flattening, keeping a nice, pretty rounded edge. I have heard that you can slice the empty tube from a wrapping paper roll open and use it in the same fashion.
To measure the flour, be sure to dip the flour out of the cup and spoon lightly into the measuring cup; level the top. This is one time that too much flour will make a drier cookie.