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+ servings
Tasting Jerusalem

Spice Cookies

These are very loosely inspired by duvshanyot, or Pfeffernusse. 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."
4 from 2 votes
Prep Time 1 hr 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Servings 24 cookies
Calories 218 kcal


  • ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp currants 125 g
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • scant 2 cups all-purpose flour 240 g
  • tsp best-quality cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp each ground cinnamon allspice, ginger, and nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 5 oz good-quality dark chocolate (150 g) coarsely grated
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (125 g) at room temperature
  • cup superfine sugar 125 g
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp grated lemon zest
  • ½ tsp grated orange zest
  • ½ large free-range egg
  • 1 tbsp diced candied citrus peel


  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 11/3 cups confectioners’ sugar 160 g


  • Soak the currants in the brandy for 10 minutes. 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, 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 about1 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 1¾-oz / 50g chunks and shape each chunk into a perfectly round ball. Place the balls on 1 or 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing them about ¾ inch / 2 cm apart, and let rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F / 190°C. Bake the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes, until the top firms up but the center is still slightly soft. Remove from the oven. Once the cookies are out of the oven, allow to cool for only 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack. While the cookies are still warm, whisk together the glaze ingredients 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.


“Reprinted with permission from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.” Photo credit: Jonathan Lovekin © 2012


Calories: 218kcalCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 1gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 41mgPotassium: 107mgFiber: 1gSugar: 28gVitamin A: 130IUVitamin C: 1.1mgCalcium: 17mgIron: 1.4mg
Keyword Middle Eastern spice cookie, spice cookie recipe
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