I’m a sucker for biscuits made with dark molasses, like these Pevarini – white pepper biscuits hailing from Venice. White pepper is combined with cinnamon and molasses to create a warm and mellow flavour. This recipe is from Cinnamon and Salt: Cicchetti in Venice: Small Bites From the Lagoon City by Emiko Davies.
Read our full review of Emiko Davies’ Cinnamon and Salt. to find out why it’s already a favourite book on our bookshelf.
Pevarini (Venetian Pepper Biscuits)
These warm, spicy, not-too-sweet biscuits are rich in molasses, which substitutes sugar entirely in this recipe and is what also gives them their deep brown colouring and mellow, balsamic-like flavour. They are named for the presence of pevare, or pepper, in Venetian dialect – this is white pepper to be precise – and often the recipe is accompanied by other spices too, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. You could use a combination of them here too. Originally, these would have been made with lard in place of the butter or sometimes brushed with a sticky glaze of simple syrup when coming out of the oven. This is inspired mostly by a recipe from Giampiero Rorato’s I Dolci delle Venezie (2005).
Try these dipped in wine.
- 350 g (12½ oz/2⅓ cups plain (all-purpose) flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 250 g (9 oz/ ¾ cup) molasses
- 75 g (2¾ oz/⅓ cup) unsalted butter, softened
- juice of ½ lemon
- 1 egg
- cocoa powder, for dusting
Place all the dry ingredients, except for the cocoa powder, in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the molasses, the butter and lemon juice until caramel-like. Add the egg then stir (I like a wooden spoon or a fork) into the flour mixture until you have a well-combined dough. Rest the dough for 30 minutes in the fridge, or even overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Then, on a clean surface such as a wooden board, roll the dough to about 5 mm (1/4 in) thick (dust it beforehand with cocoa powder if it is sticky; this will help, like flour, for it to not stick but the colour blends in better). Cut into diamonds approximately 5 cm (2 in) wide and place, spaced well apart, on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the biscuits are slightly puffed and dry on top.
Cool on a wire baking tray. They keep well stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
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Kavey Eats received a review copy of Cinnamon and Salt: Cicchetti in Venice: Small Bites From the Lagoon City by Emiko Davies from publisher Hardie Grant. Book photography by Emiko Davies.
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