27 Nov Salt & Pepper Cocoa Shortbread Cookies
I know what you’re thinking.
Black pepper…in cookies?!
You know what I’m thinking? Why yes my friend, black pepper in cookies.
These Salt & Pepper Cocoa Shortbread Cookies are not quite sweet, yet not quite savory. When you bite into one you immediately get the slightly bitter, almost smokey flavor of cocoa powder which then turns into a slow peppery burn from black pepper and finishes with a sharp bite of salt.
Salt and pepper, the simplest of spices make for a quite complex cookie.
When I stumbled upon the recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dori Greenspan I was intrigued. Sure I have added spices of the heated variety to baked goods in the past. These Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies are in fact, some of my favorites. But these cookies are different. I think it was the simplicity that caught my attention.
Salted sweets have been HUGE this year, and spicy sweets have also had their fair share of attention. But sweet, salty AND spicy. Well that’s not something you see every day. However if you think about it, salt and pepper are the foundation for seasoning all food. Why not pair them with cocoa and throw them in a cookie? We eat them with everything else, right?
Like I said, these cookies are unique and surprisingly complex. They aren’t the cookies you want to pass out to the neighborhood kids for the holidays. But if you’re looking for something a little different and unexpected, these are sure to pleasantly surprise your holiday guests.
Side note: Did you notice my adorable, new cutting board? It was a birthday present from one of my best friends and I’m completely in love with it. In fact, I’m afraid to cut anything on it because it’s just too shiny and pretty. Which makes it a great photo prop. The logo is actually hand burned onto the wood which gives it a dark, rustic look that you wouldn’t get from simply carving. It was made by Christopher at SaintlyWood. If you’re looking for a unique Christmas gift (aren’t we all) check out his Etsy shop by clicking here.
Warm wishes to you and your families for a very happy Thansgiving! XO, Katie
Tip: After you roll your dough, place it in a toilet paper or paper towel roll so that the dough holds a cylindrical shape while it chills. No more flat-sided cookies!
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 2/3 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for rolling
- 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper, plus more for rolling
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Coarse decorating sugar, for rolling
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa powder.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-low until smooth.
- Add the confectioners sugar and continue to beat until butter is satiny.
- Add the egg yolk, salt, pepper and vanilla and mix until smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, beating on low speed only until each addition is incorporated.
- Turn out the dough on a floured work surface. Divide the dough in half and roll into two 1 to 1 1/4 inch thick logs (about 6 inches long). Roll the logs back and forth under your palms to get a good shape.
- Once formed, wrap the logs in plastic wrap and if desired, place inside a toilet paper or paper towel roll to help keep shape. Refrigerate for a least four hours (or place in the freezer if you plan to bake later.)
- To bake, position your oven racks to divide the oven in thirds and preheat to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove the dough rolls from the oven. Brush each roll with egg wash and sprinkle with a salt, sugar, pepper mixture. (Choose the ratio you will most enjoy.)
- Use a thin bladed knife to cut logs into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving 1 inch in between.
- Bake for 14-16 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the 7-minute mark. Cookies should feel reasonably firm to the touch.
- Remove from oven and transfer to wire cooling sheets to cool to room temperature.