More >

Mrs. Tigani's Chocolate and Black Pepper Cookies

Biscotti al Cioccolato con Pepe Nero


Walnut-studded chocolate drop cookies are always found on a wedding cookie cake because they are firm and provide a good color contrast to the lighter cookies. This recipe has changed hands and ingredients many times in my family, but the one thing that remains constant is the black pepper in the dough. These freeze beautifully.


3 1/4 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup solid vegetable shortening

1/2 to 2/3 cup milk

2/3 cup chopped walnutsFROSTING

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

3 to 3 1/2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon rum extract

Colored sprinkles


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease two cookie sheets. Sift all the dry ingredients together into a bowl. Work in the shortening with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add 1/2 cup milk and the nuts and mix with your hands until well blended. If the mixture seems too dry and does not hold together, add just enough additional milk so the dough holds together.

Pinch off 1-inch pieces of dough and roll them into balls. Place 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until firm.

While the cookies bake, make the frosting. In a bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, and the rum extract and beat until smooth. Add additional milk if necessary to make a thin frosting.

Let the cookies cool on racks only until warm. Dip the tops into the icing, place on the racks, and sprinkle with colored sprinkles. Let the frosting dry completely before layering the cookies between wax paper. These will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week or can be frozen for up to 2 months.


  1. judi's avatar


    i make all kinds of italian cookies for xmass and this one looks so good ,ill add it to my colection.i love to watch mary ann cook and bake she is the best.
  2. MARY T BALLESTERO's avatar


  3. carm's avatar


    made these cookies for a wedding in july, and made them again for christmas, they are delicious.

  4. Mike C.'s avatar

    Mike C.

    I love these cookies. That page in my recipe book has been stained with chocolate cookie dough.
    The black pepper not only adds a good kick to them, but also makes them taste really good. I love making them for holidays & special occasions.
  5. Betty Ann Batzel's avatar

    Betty Ann Batzel

    I love watching your show and I love that the meals are simple and look delicious♥ I love to cook and bake. Is that your kitchen or on the set?Thank you for the quick response. do these cookies crumble when you eat them. I have searched for many years for this recipe and I will try these and let you know. Thank you.Betty Ann
  6. Peggy Caruso's avatar

    Peggy Caruso

    Lost my recipe, these are wonderful, only diff is mine had honey and no b pepper
    But these are delicious, so happy I fiound this.
  7. Judy's avatar


    My aunt used to add raisins along with the walnuts.
  8. Debbie's avatar


    In Mrs Tigani's Choc Pepper cookies you call for solid vegetable that Crisco, butter or?? I LOVE all your recipes (have several of your books) and I don't want to alter the flavor or, could you suggest something healthier...would coconut oil or solid coconut work? Thank you...:)
  9. linda's avatar


    I am so hoping that this will be like an old neighbor used to make. I haven't had one in 60 years, but think of them every Christmas.
  10. Maria's avatar


    My mother receipt had raisins no pepper I lost her receipt,I will tried yours thanks
  11. Geri's avatar


    This is one of many cookies That my family and I have made over many years for Christmas, weddings, baptisms, etc. I have my mother’s recipe which is exactly like this one. It is fantastic. Don’t change anything.
  12. Diane's avatar


    My parents would bring a box home for me whenever they would go back to my father's hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts to visit family...then my mother finally made them herself and they were delicious !!!! Now that my mother has passed...I've searched through her recipes but could not find...I never knew the name...just called them chocolate balls...thanks MaryAnn for bringing back the taste of home !!!!
  13. Lori's avatar


    We call these Italian Meatball Cookies

Leave a Comment

Looking for even more photos and recipes?
Order my latest book.

Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy

Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.

Order using this link and receive a signed book plate.

Available now!