Cookie Calendar: Spicy Chocolate Cookies

I admit, when I first saw this recipe in Real Simple, I was skeptical. Not just cinnamon, but cayenne and ground black pepper in a chocolate cookie recipe? What were they thinking?

I am more familiar these days with Aztec and Mexican traditions in flavoring cocoa, so it doesn't sound so odd to me anymore. Still, you might want to be selective in revealing the secret of these cookies to people before they taste them. We all have the friend or relative who wouldn't touch a peppered cookie with a 10-foot pole and the one who would get turned on to the cookie just by the idea.

I've heard that brown sugar, like buttermilk, enhances the flavor of chocolate in baked goods. The recipe doesn't specify light or dark brown sugar, but I generally use the light brown kind in those situations. The recipe also doesn't specify natural or Dutch-processed cocoa powder, and as the leavening seems to come from non-chemical sources, I would guess that it does not matter much which you use.

These are an easy slice-and-bake cookie variety. Real Simple suggested in the accompanying article that the dough logs were great to keep around in your freezer throughout the holiday season for any last-minute cookie needs.

Give the Spicy Chocolate Cookies a chance. They are surprisingly delicious and a regular part of my rotation now.

Cookie Tip #9: Time management becomes crucial when baking many different cookies during the holidays. I find it's often best to focus for a couple of hours on just making refrigerator-bound doughs, keeping all the tools and ingredients at the ready to save time. They can rest for hours or days even while I work on other holiday tasks. Later on, with my fridge stocked with logs and rounds, I can focus exclusively on forming and baking cookies, with clear counters to work on.

Spicy Chocolate Cookies
Source: Real Simple

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
⅛ to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix thoroughly with a whisk and set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on high until fluffy, about 1 minute. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until the butter is just incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto wax paper. Use the paper to shape and roll the dough into a cylinder about 10 inches long and 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. Wrap tightly in more wax paper, folding or twisting the ends to seal. Chill for at least 45 minutes or freeze (for up to 3 months) until needed.

Before baking, preheat oven to 375° F. Unwrap the dough (if frozen, let thaw for 5 minutes). On a cutting board, cut it into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Place the slices about 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool until the cookies are firm enough to be moved. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Download Spicy Chocolate Cookies into MacGourmet.

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