I decided to break from the complicated, elaborate cakes of the first few chapters. These desserts feel like tough teachers who give lengthy assignments. While cookies seem like the less demanding instructor, although no less effective. I needed a little breather. The batter mixed up easily and the cookies took only minutes to bake. This felt really nice. Obviously, the quick, easy and delicious style of cookies has much to do with why people love to make them. If I didn’t truly get this before, I do now.
I chose this recipe as my first of Maida’s cookies because of the spice (herbs!) and especially because they were called black pepper, which made me think about digestion. Pepper helps digestion and also harmonizes flavors. I’m always wondering about the effects of herbs in baking.
I imagined pale cookies with little black specks that tasted sort of like a sweet salt and pepper cracker. Not at all what happened. Yes, there is a good amount of black pepper, a whole ½ teaspoon, but these cookies are more a spice blending clove, cinnamon, a pinch of cayenne and a lot of ginger. Really the black pepper becomes a background palate for the other spices, especially ginger.
In her intro, Maida describes these as tantalizing. Tantalizing – exciting the senses, teasing, provoking desire. I’m not sure I would say tantalizing, but I had trouble eating just one, addictive maybe. And minimal guilt because they’re light and crisp and all the spice did feel make them easy on my stomach.