I came across this Regency recipe for Kitchen Pepper by A Lady from 1807 on Old School Pastry a few days ago, I thought it looked delicious and was not mistaken. Its a perfect gift for Yule as all the combined spices smell just like Christmas in a jar!
It would be great to use in cakes, biscuits, curries, and as A Lady herself suggests: to flavour meats, sauces and soups. I'm using it today in my Black Pepper Cookie recipe (see below).
Kitchen pepper 1807 From The New System of Domestic Cookery, by "A Lady," from 1807
Original recipe:Its Christmas Eve in Australia, a gentle rain is falling, the rain water tank is filling and we are all cooling down from the heat wave of the last few days, where temperatures reached 40oC. even in my cool Blue Mountains.
Mix the finest powder, one ounce of ginger; of cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg, and Jamaica pepper, half an ounce each: ten cloves, and six ounces of salt. Keep it in a bottle - it is an agreeable addition to brown sauces or soups.
Spice in powder, kept in small bottles close stopped, goes much further than when used whole. It must be dried before pounded; and should be done in quantities that may be wanted in three or four months. Nutmeg need not be done - but the others should be kept in separate bottles, with a little label on each. (http://www.oldschoolpastry.com/2011/02/foodie-friday-homemade-seasonings-and.html)
So with the cooler weather making baking more bearable I decided to make my Black Pepper Cookies as Christmas treats for tomorrow and use the Kitchen Pepper as the replacement spice mix for them.
I've been making these for a very long time, my recipe book says they are American, but I have no idea if they are. I reckon they may have been adapted from Dutch speculaas biscuits. They are delicious, full of rich chocolate and the pepper and spices work so well together, a perfect Christmas Cookie.
Black Pepper Cookies
(The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook. London & New York, Marshall Cavendish, 1973 p.137)Makes about 36 biscuits
• 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 3/4 teaspoon finely ground pepper, plus more for sprinkling
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
• 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
• 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon good-quality instant espresso powder
• 1 cup sugar (I use brown sugar)
• 1 large egg
Heat oven to 375oF, Gas Mark 5 or 190oF. Lightly grease a baking sheet with butter. Set aside. In a medium sized mixing bowl cream the butter, pepper, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla extract together with a wooden spoon until the mixture is soft. Beat in the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Sift flour, salt and cocoa into the bowl and blend the dry ingredients thoroughly with the butter and sugar mixture until a firm dough is formed. Lightly flour your hands and roll spoonfuls of the dough into balls about 1" diameter. Place balls on baking sheet, leaving 1 1/2" space between each one. With the heel of your hand, gently flatten the dough balls to 1/4' thick. Place the baking sheet in the centre of the oven and bake biscuits for 12 minutes. Remove from baking sheet from the oven. Transfer to a wire rack and ;eave them to cool completely before serving or storing.
Have yourself a very Merry Christmas
New Year full of joy and creativity!
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