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Middle-Earth Menu: “Balin’s Spice Cookies”


In my original cookbook, I had a section entitled “Tea-Time.” This chapter consisted of five “sweeties” and five “savories;” I had envisioned it as a somewhat large and friendly dwarvish gathering at Bilbo Baggins’ house after all of his dragonish adventures. Now, you may recall at the beginning of The Hobbit, that Bilbo was rather annoyed with the pesky Gandalf: “Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today. Good morning! But please come to tea—any time you like! Why not tomorrow? Come tomorrow! Good-bye!” This sounds like Bilbo’s version of “let’s do lunch sometime…” Then, of course, there’s the almost nightmarish “tea” the next day, which is really more of a raid on Bilbo’s pantry.

Well, by the end of the story, Bilbo and the dwarves are much friendlier, making sincere and mutual invitations to dine together: “If ever you are passing my way,” said Bilbo, “don’t wait to knock! Tea is at four; but any of you are welcome at any time!” I’m thinking Bilbo would love to set out an impressive yet down-to-earth tea with his friends, so he would probably prepare all ten of the upcoming recipes and serve them all at once. You might not have the energy for that much work all at one time; I know I wouldn’t! So, break out the fine china and brew up some tea—or whatever other libations your guests require.

“Balin’s Spice Cookies”


4 ounces pecan halves, toasted lightly and cooled
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cake flour
½ cup plus ¾ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon each:
Ground cloves
Ground ginger
½ cup soft salted butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Place the pecans in a large food processor and pulse until they are fully ground. Add the flours, ½ cup powdered sugar, and all the spices. Process until combined. Add the butter, vanilla, and cream and pulse thoroughly. Scrape into a 2-quart covered container. Refrigerate for one hour.
Preheat oven to 400°. Coat two large baking sheets with cooking spray or grease lightly. Roll dough into 36 balls, about 1¼” diameter, and place 1″ apart on sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove; let sit on pans for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, rinse out and dry the 2-quart container. Place ¾ cup powdered sugar in container. Put half of the cookies in this; cover, and roll them around gently in the sugar. Place cookies carefully on a rack over a cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining cookies. You can sprinkle any remaining powdered sugar over tops of cookies, using a fine-mesh strainer. Store covered at room temperature. Makes 36.

These are known as Skögul’s Spice Cookies in my cookbook.

Astrid Tuttle Winegar

1462868_10200969636032610_178531601_nAstrid Tuttle Winegar is the author of Cooking for Halflings & Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls, which is currently available exclusively in e-book form on the Amazon Kindle, but will soon be released by Oloris Publishing! Stay tuned for details. For now, she is mostly telling a culinary Middle-earth story here on Legendarium. Astrid has loved C. S. Lewis since childhood, J. R. R. Tolkien since middle and high school, all Star things, both Trek and Wars, all things Whedon, and many other things besides… She lives in the enchanted city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband and dog. She blogs occasionally at You can check out (and like!) her Facebook page at or visit her Twitter feed at

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