Spice Cookies

Spice Cookies
Staff Writer
Spice Cookies

Jonathan Lovekin

Spice Cookies

During the late 19th century, as part of their Protestant beliefs, the Templers arrived in Jerusalem from Europe and established the German colony, a picturesque little neighborhood southwest of the Old City that to this day feels unusually central European. This is the "civilized" part of town, where you go for a coffee and a slice of Sachertorte if you wish to escape the harsh Levantine reality.

Germanic influences on the city's food are evident in Christian contexts — the famous Austrian hospice at the heart of the Old City serves superb strudels and proper schnitzels — but Czech, Austrian, Hungarian, and German Jews arriving in the city from the 1930s have also managed to stamp their mark, opening cafés and bakeries serving many Austro-Hungarian classics. Duvshanyot, round iced cookies, made with honey and spices, typically for Rosh Hashanah, are possibly a result of this heritage; they are similar to pfeffernüsse.

These are very loosely inspired by duvshanyot, or pfeffernüsse. They are actually more closely related to an Italian spice cookie and are hugely popular on the sweet counter at Ottolenghi over Easter and Christmas. The recipe was adapted from the excellent The International Cookie Cookbook by Nancy Baggett.

16
Servings
267
Calories Per Serving
Deliver Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 3/4  Cups  plus 2 tablespoons currants
  • 2  Tablespoons  brandy
  • 2  Cups  scant all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2  Teaspoon  best-quality cocoa powder
  • 1/2  Teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1/4  Teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2  Teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/2  Teaspoon  allspice
  • 1/2  Teaspoon  ginger
  • 1/2  Teaspoon  nutmeg
  • 1/4  Teaspoon  salt
  • 5  Ounces  good-quality dark chocolate, grated coarsely
  • 1/2  Cup  unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3  Cups  superfine sugar
  • 1  Teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1/2  Teaspoon  grated lemon zest
  • 1/2  Teaspoon  grated orange zest
  • 1/2  large free-range egg
  • 3  Tablespoons  lemon juice
  • 1 1/3  Cup  confectioners' sugar
  • 1  Tablespoon  diced candied citrus peel

Directions

In a bowl, soak the currants in the brandy for 10 minutes. In another bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt, and dark chocolate. Mix well with a whisk.

Put the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon and orange zest in a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment and beat to combine but not aerate much, about 1 minute. With the mixer running, slowly add the egg and mix for about 1 minute. Add the dry ingredients, followed by the currants and brandy. Mix until everything comes together.

Gently knead the dough in the bowl with your hands until it comes together and is uniform. Divide the dough into 1 ¾-ounce chunks and shape each chunk into a perfectly round ball. Line 1 or 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and place the balls on the sheets, spacing them about ¾-inch apart, and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Bake the cookies until the top firms up but the center is still slightly soft, for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let cool for only 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack. While the cookies are still warm, whisk together the lemon juice and confectioners' sugar in a bowl until a thin and smooth icing forms.

Pour 1 tablespoon of the glaze over each biscuit, leaving it to drip and coat the biscuit with a very thin, almost transparent film. Finish each with 3 pieces of candied peel placed at the center. Leave to set and serve, or store in an airtight container for a day or two.

Nutritional Facts

Total Fat
14g
20%
Sugar
6g
7%
Saturated Fat
4g
17%
Cholesterol
1mg
0%
Carbohydrate, by difference
35g
27%
Protein
5g
11%
Vitamin A, RAE
1µg
0%
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid
3mg
4%
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)
2µg
2%
Calcium, Ca
67mg
7%
Choline, total
3mg
1%
Fiber, total dietary
5g
20%
Folate, total
27µg
7%
Iron, Fe
2mg
11%
Magnesium, Mg
35mg
11%
Niacin
2mg
14%
Phosphorus, P
102mg
15%
Riboflavin
1mg
91%
Selenium, Se
4µg
7%
Sodium, Na
242mg
16%
Thiamin
1mg
91%
Water
23g
1%
Zinc, Zn
1mg
13%

Spice Shopping Tip

Spices and dried herbs have a shelf life too, and lose potency over time. The rule of thumb is, if your spices are over two years old, it's time to buy some new ones.

Spice Cooking Tip

Toasting whole spices before using them intensifies their aroma and flavor.