Citrus, Spice, and Everything Nice

Rather than just talk and tease about delicious homemade cookies, how about we get down to the knitty gritty, bust out the flour and sugar, and get serious about this holiday baking business?

To be frank, I hate doing what’s expected of me, so it would only follow suit that I can’t stand to give the same old Christmas cookies every year. Biscotti are classics, tried and true, so perfect for shipping thanks to their sturdy structure. Not in a million years would I whip up a batch that was merely almond, or chocolate chip, or another standard (albeit delightful!) flavor, however. This year, the dreary weather has me searching out some citrus sunshine, with an invigorating punch of spice.

Bright, bold flavors help to combat the slowly advancing grey days of winter. In a time when fewer fruits are ripe and fresh inspiration is harder to come by, a well stocked spice rack is key. Transforming the traditionally savory spices of the kitchen into something sweeter, black pepper and cayenne liven up these crisp biscotti, ideal for dunking in tea or coffee. Adding a bold hit of lemon zest to finish it off is guaranteed to wake anyone up and out of hibernation.

Lemon-Pepper Biscotti

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
Zest of 2 Medium-Sized Lemons (About 3 Tablespoons)
1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Pinch Dried Red Pepper Flakes
1 6-Ounce Container (3/4 Cup) Plain Soy or Coconut “Yogurt”
2 Tablespoons Smooth Almond Butter
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Plain Non-Dairy Milk

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt just to combine. Zest the lemons directly into the dry goods and toss to distribute, along with the black pepper and cayenne. Follow that with the vegan yogurt, almond butter, and vanilla. Use a wide spatula to incorporate the wet ingredients thoroughly. The mixture will still be rather dry, but it should start to come together into a cohesive ball of dough. Drizzle in one tablespoon of non-dairy milk at a time, until the dough is no longer dry but not quite sticky.

Divide the dough in half and shape each piece on your prepared baking sheet. Form the dough into equally sized logs, 2 inches apart from each other and about an 1 1/2 wide by 8 or 9 inches long. The exact measurements aren’t critical, but make sure that the logs are rather skinny and long, and not mounded up higher than an inch or so. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until lightly golden brown and top. Remove the biscotti logs from the oven on but leave the heat on. Let the loaves cool for at least 15 minutes.

Using a serrated knife, cut the biscotti into 1/2 – 3/4 inch slices and lay them with the cut side down on a fresh piece of parchment or cleaned silpat. Return them to the oven and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Flip the biscotti over the other cut side and repeat. Let cool completely before removing them from the baking sheet.

Makes 2 – 3 Dozen Biscotti

Printable Recipe

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28 thoughts on “Citrus, Spice, and Everything Nice

  1. I don’t think that I will ever be a fan of black pepper, but I know so many people on my holiday baking list who love it! I will have to think of some fun tea pairings!

  2. Ha! I am the total opposite–I want to make the same cookies every single year. :) Of course, when I see a combination as interesting as lemon pepper in biscotti form…well. There way be some more cookies on our table sometime soon, is all I’m saying.

  3. What an interesting play on the “spice” cookie! I love the combination of citrus and pepper in savory dishes, so why not try it in a sweeter application. I, too hate to produce the same cookies year after year, but then there are those who simply MUST have their snickerdoodles and sugar cookies. Maybe I’ll throw these biscotti in this year to make everyone go a bit mad!

  4. Black pepper and lemon really add some zip and fun to this basic cookie. Delightful to dip in your tea or coffee or to withstand the jostling of shipment abroad.

  5. Such an interesting flavor combo! I’m already miss seeing all of the fruit at the market, how nice to get lemon into these fabulous looking biscotti. :-)

  6. These sounds so interesting Hannah…lemon and pepper…now that I get to give some thought…I would not mind trying it…
    Have a great week!

  7. Just pulling these out of the oven Hannah and they are super yum! I’m adding them to my gift boxes for a couple people who love both biscotti and spicy but just as a note to anyone considering these, they are not too spicy at all as written. Just a bit of heat at just the right level with the lemon. Also I don’t usually have yogurt so I subbed soy buttermilk (soy milk with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar) and also no almond butter so added a 1 Tb canola oil. Both worked a treat. I hope to try them with almond butter at some point though as I bet it’s yum too :)

    1. Such great tips for substitutions, thank you for sharing your experience! I’m really happy you enjoyed them, and I hope all of the lucky gift recipients feel the same way, too. :) Happy Holidays!

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