Walnut–Black Pepper Cookies

Jessica Theroux

Adapted from Cooking with Italian Grandmothers (Welcome Books, 2010)

This recipe is adapted from Cooking with Italian Grandmothers by Jessica Theroux. “Carluccia loved the earthy, creamy taste of her land’s walnuts,” says Theroux, referring to one of the grandmothers featured in the book. “For this cookie I combined their flavor with one of her favorite spices, the black peppercorn, which we foraged for together along Calabria’s wild coastline.”


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) soft unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons cane sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons semi-runny honey (preferably darker honey here, such as wildflower or chestnut)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) raw walnuts, pounded or coarsely ground
  • 1 cup flour
  • Granulated sugar for sprinkling the cookies


Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the black pepper, pinch of salt, and honey; mix to incorporate. Add the nuts and flour, and mix with the electric mixer until the dough forms moist clumps, a few minutes.

Roll large teaspoonfuls of the batter between your clean hands to make little balls. Place the balls on the baking sheet, and press down on them twice with the tines of a fork to make a crosshatch pattern. Sprinkle with a little bit of granulated sugar. Bake the cookies for 25 minutes, or until their bottoms have turned golden-nutty brown. Set aside to cool. For a complete walnut experience, enjoy the cookies with sipfuls of the following sweet walnut liquor.


2 dozen cookies