Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    Sixty to sixty-eight

    2 inch cookies

Appears in

The Baking Bible

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2014

  • About
Oven Temperature 350°F/175°C
Baking Time 8 to 9 minutes for each of four batches

Woody’s t’ai chi Sifu (“master”), Paul Abdella, gave Woody his treasured family recipe for this unusual Norwegian cookie. The black pepper gives the cookie a subtle underlying sensation of heat on the palate that brings the spicy flavors into harmony. These are perfect as they are, but when spread with a soft goat cheese, they also serve as a delicious and unusual savory hors d’oeuvre.

Plan Ahead Freeze the dough at least 8 hours ahead of baking the cookies.


Cookie Dough

Makes 16.2 ounces/460 grams

bleached all-purpose flour cups (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) plus 2 tablespoons 5.9 ounces 167 grams
baking soda ½ teaspoon . 2.7 grams
fine sea salt ¼ teaspoon . 1.5 grams
ground ginger ½ tablespoon . 1.5 grams
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon . 2.2 grams
ground cloves 1 teaspoon . 2.5 grams
freshly ground black pepper ¾ teaspoon . 1.9 grams
unsalted butter (65° to 75°F/19° to 23°C) 8 tablespoons (1 stick) 4 ounces 113 grams
granulated sugar ½ cup 3.5 ounces 100 grams
molasses, preferably Grandma’s light ¼ cup (59 ml), cup lightly coated with cooking spray 2.8 ounces 80 grams
Demerara or pearl sugar ¼ cup 1.8 ounces 50 grams

Special Equipment

Two 15 by 12 inch cookie sheets, lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray and then wiped to give a thin coating | One 12 by 1⅝ (measured from the inside) cardboard tube from a paper towel roll, cut into quarters (or four 3 inch lengths of PVC plastic piping) | A heavy sharp knife with a 1½ to 2 inch wide blade, preferably a cleaver


Mix the Dry Ingredients

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper.

Make the Dough

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Scrape in the molasses and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Detach the flat beater and use it to stir in the flour mixture until moistened. Reattach the flat beater and beat on low speed until evenly incorporated, about 15 seconds. The dough will resemble a thick, fluffy buttercream.

Scrape the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to knead the dough a few times until it becomes one smooth piece. Wrap the dough loosely with the plastic wrap and flatten it into a 5 by 4 inch rectangle. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour, or until firm enough to shape. (An instant-read thermometer should read below 63°F/17°C.)

Shape the Dough into Logs

Divide the dough into quarters, about 4.1 ounces/115 grams each. Work with 1 piece at a time. Wrap the remaining pieces in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Roll 1 piece of dough between the palms of your hands into a log just under 1 inches in diameter, about 3 inches long. Lightly tamp each end on the work surface to flatten it. Wrap the dough log in plastic wrap and slide it into one of the cardboard tubes. Stand the tube on the work surface. With your fingers, press the dough down until it reaches the bottom and fits snugly into the tube. Repeat with the other 3 pieces of dough. Stand the tubes on end in the freezer.

If not using the cardboard tube, roll the dough logs to about 1⅝ inches in diameter. Wrap with plastic wrap and freeze the dough logs for 1 hour. Remove them from the freezer and quickly roll them again to minimize flattening. Then stand them on end. The dough logs need to freeze for at least 8 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer reads below 32°F/0°C, to firm them for even cutting. The dough cuts most easily when slightly thawed.

The unbaked dough can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Cut the Dough into Cookies

In a small bowl, place the Demerara sugar.

Remove 1 of the frozen dough logs from the freezer and let it soften slightly. Cut 15 to 17 slices, each ⅛ inch thick. While you are cutting the dough, the log will start to flatten. Simply roll it lightly to maintain the round shape. Set the dough rounds ½ inch apart on the cookie sheet. Smooth any rough edges with a small metal spatula. Sprinkle each cookie with a little of the Demerara sugar and bake at once.

Bake the Cookies

Bake for 4 minutes. For even baking, rotate the cookie sheet halfway around. Continue baking for 4 to 5 minutes, or until set to the touch. Pressing lightly on the cookie with a fingertip should leave only a slight impression.

Cool the Cookies

Set the cookie sheet on a wire rack and let the cookies cool for about 1 minute, or just until they can be lifted without distorting their shapes. Use a pancake turner to lift the cookies onto another wire rack. (Do not leave them on the cookie sheet because they will continue to bake and become too brittle.)

While each batch of cookies is baking, remove the next dough log to soften and slice the dough for the next batch.


Airtight: room temperature, 1 month; refrigerated, 3 months; frozen, 6 months.

In this section