A Simple Trick for Even Better Gingerbread Cookies

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Of all the cookies I look forward to indulging in during the holiday season, spice cookies are my absolute favorite. Specifically, I love soft, molasses-rich gingerbread cookies, but really anything that’s filled with all the warm spices of the season will do.

For years I’ve been on the hunt for the spiciest cookie of them all. I’ve tried countless recipes and tinkered with each of them, but a couple of years ago I stumbled upon the one recipe that unearthed the secret to the ultimate spice cookies and my holidays have forever been changed for the better. The secret is black pepper.

Black Pepper Is the Secret to Better Spice Cookies

Leave it to the Cookie Queen, Dorie Greenspan, to better my baking. A few years ago I decided to try her molasses spice cookies from her cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours. She calls for a pinch of freshly ground black pepper along with the usual spices like cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. I was hesitant to add it since it felt out of place in cookie dough, but I am so glad I trusted her.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

A pinch of black pepper doesn’t turn spice cookies into a savory situation by any means. Instead, it adds just enough of a surprising punch that may cause family and friends to guess the secret ingredient. It lends depth to spice cookies and marries all the usual warm baking spices together.

Dorie’s recipe is flawless if you have her cookbook, but the technique can be applied to really any spice cookie you love to bake, whether it’s your classic gingerbread men or something a bit different like these chai shortbread cookies. Just add a generous pinch when you add the rest of your spices to the dough.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)
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