Inspired by yhlee
's post here
, ten things that make me happy:
* Cuddling the baby. Which I am doing right now. (After every feeding we need to prop Kit up for better digestion, and the easiest way to do that is in one's lap, so I have developed a way of arranging pillow and legs and baby and table and laptop such that I can type while Kit snoozes.) Having the baby in my lap makes the world infinitely better. I don't even know why. I mean, yes, oxytocin, but that's not all there is to it. It's just warm and cozy and wonderful.
* How well the three of us work together as parents. I'm especially glad that we've been making time for family snuggles, even when we're all so tired that we can barely stay awake to enjoy them. This week we start having date nights again, which is such an amazing thought I don't even know what to do with it.
* The warm welcome back I got from my colleagues and reviewers when I returned to work. It's so nice to be appreciated.
* Cooking, and homemade food. This weekend J and I made pot roast and roast beef, and X and I baked bread in the bread machine (such magic!). Fresh bread with homemade pot roast gravy, oh YES.
* Thoughtful family members who give us wonderfully appropriate baby gifts.
* Delightful friends. Today we introduced Kit to vschanoes
and her son and godchildren, and spent a lovely few hours hanging out at their house. I can't wait for the babies to get old enough to properly enjoy spending time together.
* Getting the dermatologist's approval to take baths, now that my lipoma removal incision has fully healed up. I CAN TAKE A BATH. I just need to find the time. Maybe this weekend.
* I got to read books for fun while I was on leave! That was great! I'd missed just reading for fun. I mostly reread old favorites, with one new-to-me book for variety.
* I bought sleeping caps from headcovers.com and now my head isn't cold at night.
* The heartstopping adorableness
of Kit yawning, and the little squeaking noise at the end of the yawn. Someday I will get video of this but of course it's hard to anticipate. It's just devastating
If you decide to make your own post of ten things that make you happy, leave me a link. :)
- thinking about:
behavior.parenting, body.health, body.skin, experiences.reading, experiences.surgery, experiences.work, food, food.baking, food.baking.bread, food.cooking, food.cooking.beef, people.family, people.friends, people.josh, people.kit, people.xtina, stuff.clothes
Ever since I was a wee child, my mother's traditional cake for my birthday has been a vanilla or marble cake with chocolate ganache and "roses" made from raspberries and sugar-frosted mint leaves. I have so many memories of coming upstairs on my birthday morning to see her hovering over wire racks covered with mint leaves, fretting about whether it's too humid and hoping they'll dry in time. (Of course they always do.) There have been variations--square cakes and round cakes, semicircle cakes for my half-birthday, cupcakes the year I had a picnic party, dairy-free cakes (with dairy-free ganache!) after my pernicious allergy developed--but the soul of the cake has always been the same.
This year we're upstate visiting J's mom, so I made sure to buy raspberries while we were shopping for the weekend, and then tonight after dinner I mixed up a vanilla mug cake and dropped in chocolate chips and decorated it with a raspberry and two fresh leaves from the mint plant on the windowsill.
It was exactly as good as it should be: delicious and satisfying, while manifestly not a patch on the original. It'll last me the weekend. Maybe next week she'll make me the real thing. :)
Also, I got the BEST birthday present: getting to watch our proto-baby squirm and flail around on the 11-week ultrasound yesterday. "This one will play sports," the ultrasound tech said as she patiently waited for the wriggler to wriggle around in the correct way so measurements could be taken. X has been superstitiously waiting to use our chosen name for the proto-baby until it felt right (we've been calling them "Kiddo" in the meantime), and apparently seeing them so magnificently manifestly indubitably alive
was sufficient to flip the "it felt right" switch. So now I get to call them by their name and that is making me very happy. (We haven't decided how to handle name stuff online yet, so for now they're still FutureKid in tweets and blog posts and so on. Hopefully we'll figure that out before FutureKid becomes ActualKid. :) )
If anyone wants to do anything in honor of my birthday, I ask that you do what you can to make the world safer and kinder for my child and everyone's children. Every little bit helps.
I was going to call this "how not to make a pumpkin pie" but that title is taken
, so I stole a phrase from that story--which is wonderful, and you should all go read it--for my subject line instead.
Tonight's gluten-free dairy-free pumpkin pie recipe:
0) Assemble all ingredients. Preheat oven.
1) Put dough ingredients in freezer to chill.
2) Make filling. Taste filling. Make a face like this:
Determine that the store-brand tinned pumpkin had soaked up too much metal flavor from the tin. Regretfully throw out the filling. Turn off the oven.
3) Go out to dinner. While out, buy organic pumpkin in a box (not a tin).
4) Assemble all ingredients. Preheat oven to 450F.
5) Make filling. Taste filling. Approve.
6) Attempt to make dough even though the coconut oil has now frozen entirely solid. Manage it with the help of the trusty Cuisinart food processor.
7) Grease the pie plate with a bit more coconut oil, since yesterday's quiche (made with the same dough recipe) stuck to it a little. Roll out the dough. Attempt to neatly transfer the dough to the plate. Mostly succeed. Patch up the holes.
8) Pour the filling into the plate. Put it in the oven. Set timer for 15 minutes, after which you intend to reduce the heat.
9) Notice that smoke is filling the kitchen. Quickly determine that the coconut oil used to grease the pie plate bubbled over the edge and is now burning on the floor of the oven.
10) Shake baking soda over the oil and see whether that does any good. Learn what burning baking soda smells like. (Spoiler: terrible
11) Remove pie from oven. Turn oven off. Start toaster oven heating at 350F, since it was more or less 15 minutes. Give up all hope of the custard setting properly. When the toaster oven has heated, put the pie in the toaster oven--on top of a foil-lined baking sheet, since you are capable of learning.
12) Clean the oven floor.
13) Timer goes off. Pie is not remotely done. Heat the oven to 350F and confirm that there is no more smoke. Put the pie in the oven. Belatedly remember to turn the toaster oven off.
14) Ten minutes later: pie not done, according to a toothpick, although the top is dark brown. Also bubbly, in a fizzy-tiny-bubbles sort of way. You have no idea why.
15) Ten minutes after that: declare the pie as done as it's going to get. Put it on the windowsill to cool. The filling almost immediately breaks away from the crust. Of course.
16) Chase the cat off the windowsill. "Trust me, kitty," you say, "you don't want this pie. Probably no one wants this pie."
17) After a suitable amount of time, cut into the pie. The filling resembles
autumn pudding in taste, texture, and color; it has the classic curdled consistency of a broken custard. The crust is soggy and mealy on the bottom and overcooked around the edge. A puddle of coconut oil rapidly fills the gap left by the "slice" of pie.
18) Decide to put the pie in the fridge, mostly for a sense of closure. Lift it up and discover that the cork trivet is glued to the bottom of the pie by coconut oil. Reach for paper towels and realize you never replaced them after using up the roll cleaning the oven. Get more paper towels. Wipe off the bottom of the pie plate, put a sheet of paper towel in the fridge, and put the pie in the fridge.
19) Write up a version of the recipe that you think will actually work
. Vow to try it... tomorrow.
20) Go to bed.
I actually don't remember how long it's been since the last time I had dairy products. As a long-established dairy-defier, I frequently give advice to people who are reducing or eliminating dairy, and I figure it makes sense to have that info all in one place.Allergen note
Almost all of my preferred creamy/buttery dairy substitutes are nut-based. I've done my best to make non-nut suggestions for those with nut allergies, but I'm not really an expert on that front.Equipment note
If you're going to go fully dairy-free, I highly recommend investing in two kitchen tools: a high-speed blender and a food processor. Mine are made by Vitamix and Cuisinart respectively, and I don't know what I'd do without them. These tools will let you easily make dairy substitutes that are tastier and usually cheaper than the storebought ones. A less essential but still useful third tool is an ice cream maker, which will let you experiment with sorbets and non-dairy ice creams.Shopping note
When buying packaged prepared foods, look for the word "parve" or "pareve" under a kosher symbol. Keeping kosher requires separating milk from meat; "parve" means that something contains neither milk nor meat and can therefore be eaten with either. This will save you a lot of time checking ingredient labels for sneaky things like whey in sandwich bread, casein in shredded fake cheese, etc. Note that parve things may still contain eggs, honey, and other non-vegan ingredients.Essential readingThe Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook
has amazing recipes for butter, cheese, whipped cream, and other dairy substitutes. Throughout this piece, I'll be referring to NDEC recipes. I've read and used a lot of non-dairy cookbooks, and NDEC is by far the best. That said, note that almost all their recipes call for either nuts or soy as a base.
Now, on to the substitutions!Milk (for drinking, cereal, smoothies, etc.)
This is totally a matter of taste. Try a bunch of different store-bought milks and see what you like. I prefer almond milk for cereal and soy or hazelnut milk for drinking. Hazelnut milk can be used to make amazing Nutella-like hot chocolate! You can also make your own nut milks in a high-speed blender. I use the NDEC recipe for almond milk, which is just almond meal (aka almond flour) and water, and it's intensely almondy and delicious. Coconut milk (the sort intended for drinking, not the sort that comes in a can) is the best non-nut non-soy option, in my opinion, but some people prefer rice milk. I do like making my own horchata, and should really try it again now that I have a Vitamix.
Proportions for almond milk: 3.75 c water to 1 packed cup almond meal/flour or 5 oz. blanched almonds
Proportions for almond cream: 4.5 c water to 1 POUND (one full bag) almond meal or blanched almondsButter (spread)
Earth Balance is the standout spreadable butter substitute. There are many varieties, including soy-free. NDEC has a butter recipe but I haven't tried it yet. Butter (sticks)
In baking, melted butter can be replaced 1:1 with canola oil or melted REFINED coconut oil. (Unrefined coconut oil tastes like coconut. Refined tastes like nothing.) For butter-like sticks, try Earth Balance sticks, but be warned that they are pre-salted; if you use them, you'll probably want to reduce or omit any salt you usually put in your recipes. Fleischmann's unsalted margarine, which is kosher parve, is reportedly very good for baking, but I'm allergic to another ingredient in it so I can't personally vouch for it. Miyoko's Kitchen makes cultured butter
that is phenomenally good, but it's extremely hard to find in stores, and it goes off faster than other vegan butters because of the culturing agents. Soooo good though.Cream
NDEC has an excellent almond cream recipe that substitutes well for heavy cream, including whipping up into schlag. Coconut cream—the thick stuff at the top of a can of coconut milk, not to be confused with pre-sweetened cream of coconut for cocktails—can also be put in coffee or whipped. There does exist canned non-dairy whipped cream, but it's quite hard to find outside of hippie specialty groceries.Crème anglaiseMy four-ingredient vegan recipe is here.Sauce HollandaiseMy recipe is here.
(Contains egg yolks, so not vegan.)Sour cream and buttermilk
The easy way for making ingredients to use in recipes: add 1 Tbsp cider vinegar per cup of cream to make sour cream; add 1 tsp cider vinegar per cup of milk and let stand 5 minutes to make buttermilk. NDEC also has recipes for sour cream and buttermilk that stand well on their own.Cream cheese
I never liked it, so I couldn't tell you which substitute is best, but NDEC has a recipe and there are a few packaged vegan cream cheese varieties available.Yogurt
There are many, many soy and coconut yogurts out there. WholeSoy unflavored unsweetened yogurt is the best for cooking, and can be used as a starter if you want to make your own yogurt. I've never been a fan of eating yogurt qua yogurt, but I expect brands etc. are mostly a matter of taste anyway, so try some and see what you like.Cheese
Cashew ricotta was one of the first substitute dairy products I ever made, and it was life-changing. Soak raw, unsalted cashews for four hours, pour out the water, put the cashews in your food processor, and drizzle in fresh cold water as you process them until the texture becomes creamy and ricotta-like. Add salt to taste. When I use it for lasagna, I process in fresh basil and nutmeg.
Regal Vegan makes a basil cashew ricotta called Basilicotta that's out of this world. Unfortunately, it goes off very quickly. If you buy it, make sure there's still plenty of time before the expiration date, and use it up as soon as you can.
NDEC has superb recipes for a wide variety of cheeses: some for slicing, some for shredding, some for eating by the fistful. I made NDEC's mozzarella with homemade almond milk and it was incredible; the texture wasn't quite perfect, but it was splendid on pasta and pizza, and yes, it melts! It doesn't get gooey, but next time I might add a bit of xanthan gum to help with that. The cheese melts best in steamy/liquid environments, such as when stirred into a pasta sauce. Under direct heat, it will brown but hold its shape. To get an effect like near-liquid melted mozzarella on pizza or lasagna, I recommend shredding the cheese, melting it in the microwave, and pouring it onto the dish. Then bake until browned and bubbly.Miyoko Schinner's Artisan Vegan Cheese
isn't quite as good a cookbook as NDEC, but I do really like her gruyère recipe; it makes killer fondue and croque monsieur. Schinner's recipes frequently call for rejuvelac, which is made by soaking and fermenting grains. It's very easy to mess up rejuvelac and get a jar full of mold. My usual substitute for 1 cup of rejuvelac is 1 capsule (1/8 tsp.) of vegan probiotic powder in 1 cup distilled water (tap water, even filtered, has too much chlorine in it). It's not quite as live-culture-y as rejuvelac but it works well enough.
Cheesemaking does take a bit of time and effort; if you're not up for that, try the many packaged shredded cheese substitutes. Lots of people like tapioca-based Daiya cheeses. My personal favorite packaged vegan mozzarella is Follow Your Heart (the shreds, not the block cheese). But homemade cheese is always the best.
As far as I can tell, there is no such thing as non-nut non-soy vegan cheese. If I were to try to make some, I'd probably make my own rice milk and then try it in a cheese recipe, but I don't know how well it would work without the soy/nut protein.Frozen pizza
My preferred brands are Daiya and Amy's, not least because their pizzas are gluten-free. Udi's and Schär pizza crusts are also GF and DF.Pre-sliced sandwich bread
Stroehmann Dutch Country whole wheat bread is my preferred brand, but any brand that's kosher parve will do.Milk powder
If a recipe calls for both milk powder and water, replace the water with your preferred non-dairy milk. I haven't tried powdered non-dairy milk but apparently it exists
I recommend exploring homemade sorbets and granitas before you try tackling homemade non-dairy ice cream. Williams-Sonoma has some good recipes.
A Vitamix blender can also be used to turn frozen fruit into frozen desserts; there are instructions for this in the manual.
Once you're ready to make your own ice cream, check out the recipes in Mark Foy's Desserts of Vitality
. Almost all of them call for lecithin, an emulsifier that's extremely useful for making smooth, creamy ice cream; you can get liquid or granulated lecithin (and many other useful ingredients, especially for cheesemaking) at Modernist Pantry
. Those with soy allergies can look for sunflower lecithin.
For store-bought ice cream, Turtle Mountain brands—Soy Delicious, So Delicious, Purely Delicious, etc.—are consistently excellent. In my experience, all coconut-based vegan ice cream tastes basically like coconut, no matter what else it's supposed to taste like. As a rule I prefer nut-based ice creams over soy-based ice creams, but tastes vary a lot. Try things and see what you like.
What did I miss? Is anything unclear? Ask all the questions you like!
, who accused me of cruelty after tweeting about eating apple crumble at 12:45 a.m., an untested but theoretically workable mug-size version that's vegan and GF-able:
0.5 c apple pieces (half-inch cubes work well)
1.25 tsp sugar
0.25 tsp cornstarch
1 pinch ground cinnamon
barest sprinkling of salt
2 tsp flour (any gluten-free flour blend will do fine if you're GF)
2 tsp almond meal
2.75 tsp (1 scant Tbsp) packed light or dark brown sugar
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground ginger
1 Tbsp melted refined coconut oil or canola oil
Put a bit of oil on a paper towel and use it to grease the inside of a microwave-safe mug or ramekin. Mix the coating ingredients, thoroughly coat the apples, and pour them into the mug. Mix the dry topping ingredients VERY WELL, making sure to break up all the lumps of brown sugar or they will burn in the microwave. Add the oil, mix the topping until it resembles wet sand, and spoon it over the apples. Drape a piece of paper towel loosely over the mug to catch any spatters and microwave on Medium power in 30-second increments, checking for scorching, until the coating is molten and the apples are tender with just a bit of crunch. (This should take 1 to 2 minutes depending on your microwave.) Drop in a scoop of vanilla ice cream and eat immediately.
You can mix all the dry topping ingredients together in advance and add the oil at the last minute. If you do this, I recommend using the amounts from the original recipe
, minus the oats. Then take 7 tsp of the topping mix (that's 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp), mix with oil, put on top of the coated apples, and you're good to go.
Fun things, Feb 9: cooked a whopping great dinner and invited Tea over to share it. We had pot roast for the omnis and pan-fried chicken thighs for the pollotarian, plus mashed potatoes and maple thyme carrots. Dessert was a splendid vegan GF apple crumble with various ice creams.( Pot roast )
Pan-fried chicken thighs: salt and pepper skinless boneless thigh filets, heat oil in pan, fry chicken a few minutes on each side until cooked through.
Mashed potatoes: cook potatoes, mash with lots of Earth Balance and unsweetened almond milk.
Maple thyme carrot recipe here
.( Apple crumble )
- thinking about:
experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, food, food.baking, food.baking.apples, food.cooking, food.cooking.beef, food.cooking.beef.pot roast, food.cooking.carrots, food.cooking.chicken, food.cooking.potatoes, food.recipes
We're upstate for Thanksgiving, which is splendid. I got a whim to bake a vanilla chocolate chip cake tonight, but I didn't want to fuss with the hand mixer. As usual, I rambled about this to Twitter, and muppetk
said, "What about a mug cake?"
And I exclaimed "GENIUS!" because the upstate house has a working microwave! (And soon, very soon, our apartment will too... in theory... only
ten months after we moved in...) So off I went a-Googling and found this recipe
, which I herewith present modified to my tastes.
4 Tbsp flour
5 tsp sugar
.5 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt (or omit entirely)
4 Tbsp unsweetened non-dairy milk (or use vanilla-flavored for LOTS of vanillaness)
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix dry ingredients in your microwave-safe mug with a fork, add wet ingredients, mix well until smooth (making sure to get in all the flour around the bottom edge), add add-ins. I dropped 2 tsp of really good raspberry jam into the middle and semi-sweet chocolate chips around the edge
(about twice as many chips as shown in that photo because I wanted to be thorough), just covering them all with batter before I stuck it in the microwave for 60 seconds at level 9. It probably could have used another 10 seconds but I was impatient.
I used the original amount of sugar, which of course made it too sweet. I should know by now not to trust most people's cake recipes regarding sweetness levels. The raspberry jam and chocolate chips were perfect. I might start prepping dry ingredients for this as well as my chocolate mug cake to make at work.
(crossposted to omnomnom
Recipes, as promised!( Vegan gruyère )( Vegan béchamel sauce )( Greek meatballs in olive tomato sauce )( Chocolate mug cake )
Tonight I started a batch of fresh mozzarella and a half-batch of sharp cheddar. (Note to self: half-batches do not have enough mass for the blender to work.) Wednesday my lovely nearby natural grocery will get in unsweetened unflavored soy yogurt and then I can make meltable mozzarella! I was never this excited about cheese back when I could have dairy, but right now it seems like the most exciting thing in the world. That croque monsieur made my week.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, food, food.baking, food.baking.cake, food.baking.cake.chocolate, food.baking.cake.mug cake, food.cooking, food.cooking.cheese, food.cooking.meatballs, food.cooking.sandwiches, food.cooking.sauce, food.cooking.sauce.bechamel, food.cuisine.vegan, food.nutrition.dairy, food.recipes, stuff.books
We're on day 4 of working from home, which makes me all fidgety. Today that meant baking a cake, based on this vegan gluten-free Earl Grey tea cake
recipe. I don't have Earl Grey, but I do have lapsang souchong, and I think smoky + maple is one of the more awesome flavor combinations in the world (I sweeten lapsang tea with maple syrup), so I gave it a shot. My version produced what my mother would call a "noble failure", but I think it can still be modified to make a great cake.
Here's what I did (which was not entirely successful, so see below for future adjustments):
3.25 C all-purpose flour (for GF flour types and quantities, see original recipe)
1.5 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp sea salt
.67 C canola oil
1.5 C lapsang souchong (boil 1.5 C water, let sit 3 minutes, steep with 1 level tsp loose tea leaves for 5 minutes--brewed to drinking strength, in other words)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 C maple syrup
Mix dry, mix wet, add wet to dry, mix until just combined. Bake in parchment-lined loaf pan at 375F to internal temp of 212F.
Results and modifications:
* The original recipe calls for an 8.5" loaf pan. I filled mine and it looked ready to overflow, so I transferred the batter into my 9.25" pan to be on the safe side.
* It needed to bake for 1.5 hours, way longer than I was expecting--especially given that I used a larger pan than the one called for--and the top and bottom scorched a bit. I blame the guesswork of converting between wheat and GF flours. The batter also seemed quite wet to me. Possible ways to try to get around this:
-- use only one cup of tea (brewed with the same amount of tea leaves)
-- bake it at 350F
for 2 hours or until thermometer says it's done
-- divide the batter between two smaller loaf pans
-- use a square or round cake pan
For the next iteration I'll probably break out my lovely 9" round springform pan. The batter could even be divided into two square or round pans, baked, and then layered with an appropriate filling; I'd suggest orange marmalade for the original Earl Grey recipe, or if you want to be really daring, a sea salt and black pepper vegan buttercream for the lapsang souchong version. (Has anyone tried the buttercream recipes in Quick and Easy Vegan Bake Sale
? I'm skeptical of anything that calls for shortening but would love to find one that really works, especially since I cannot find salt-free vegan butter anywhere.)
* Regardless of modifications, USE THE THERMOMETER. Going by my nose, I would have taken the cake out of the oven nearly half an hour before it was actually baked through. Going by the thermometer, the outside is slightly scorched (bah), but the middle is perfect.
* The cake is quite dense, almost heavy. I suspect the lapsang isn't as acidic as the Earl Grey, so I might change to 1 tsp baking powder and .5 tsp baking soda, and/or add a splash of cider vinegar.
* Once I get the burnt crust out of the way and dig into the middle of the cake, I can really taste both the maple and the lapsang! Delicious. I don't think it needs to be smokier, but you could go up to 1.5 tsp tea leaves (or one heaping teaspoon) if you want more intense flavor. It is quite sweet, but not cloying.
Time to buy more maple syrup and see if I can make a version that works!
The third quadruple batch of vegan chocolate cakes is in the oven. I am AWESOME.( Vegan chocolate cakes, four at a time )
This cake has a nice crust on top, almost brownie-like, and is fairly fluffy and very chocolatey. To my taste it's quite sweet; cutting the sugar by a third would do it no harm. It goes brilliantly with raspberry jam or other tangy fruit.
I suppose I should have something other than cake for dinner.
Doing four pans at once makes this super-quick! Managing a dozen batches of brownies tomorrow should be no problem. I heart my lovely DeLonghi mixer, I do. Now off to write up an ingredient list.
Stealthy Pepper Cookies
(adapted from this sugar cookie recipe
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons white pepper
Cracked black peppercorns
Cream butter and sugar; add eggs, milk, vanilla. Sift or whisk together dry ingredients except for peppercorns. (Be prepared for sneezing when you mix in the pepper.) Add dry to wet, mix until dough forms. If dough is very soft, add up to 1/4 cup additional flour. Divide dough in half and roll each half into a log of about 2" diameter. Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap and chill at least an hour and preferably overnight. The dough is fairly soft, so after it has firmed up somewhat you may want to roll it around a little to keep it from getting flat on the bottom. Another option is to flatten four sides and make square cookies. For cookies that won't spread, freeze the dough for half an hour just before baking.
Heat oven to 400F. If dough has been frozen, let logs sit at room temperature for five minutes. Spread peppercorns over a flat surface and roll the logs in them to lightly coat. You may have to press down fairly hard to get the peppercorns to stick to the dough. Slice into 1/4"-thick rounds (or squares or whatever) and arrange on baking sheet, allowing an inch of spreading space. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden around the edges and on top. Transfer to cooling rack; enjoy while warm and soft or after cooling and crisping.
These are stealthy for two reasons:
1) The white pepper is completely invisible. Without the peppercorns, these would look like perfectly ordinary sugar cookies.
2) They taste like perfectly ordinary sugar cookies too, at first. Give it a moment... aha, there's the heat! Yum.
If you like them less spicy, reduce the white pepper, but don't leave off the peppercorns altogether; they add a lovely flavor as well as additional heat. You can always put in a teaspoon or two of white pepper, mix and taste the dough, and add more if you feel it's needed. I imagine green or pink peppercorns could be used instead of black, as long as they were crushed in some fashion first.