27 Nov Salt & Pepper Cocoa Shortbread Cookies

Salt & Pepper Hot Cocoa Shortbread Cookies | Butterlust Blog

I know what you’re thinking.

Black pepper…in cookies?!

You know what I’m thinking? Why yes my friend, black pepper in cookies. 

Salt & Pepper Hot Cocoa Shortbread Cookies | Butterlust Blog

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.

Salt & Pepper Hot Cocoa Shortbread Cookies | Butterlust Blog

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?

Salt & Pepper Hot Cocoa Shortbread Cookies | Butterlust Blog

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! 

Salt & Pepper Cocoa Shortbread 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.

Salt & Pepper Hot Cocoa Shortbread Cookies | Butterlust Blog

  • Irina @ wandercrush.com
    Posted at 01:30h, 28 November Reply

    Beautiful cutting board! What a great gift—props to your best friend for having great taste 😉
    Speaking of great taste… these cookies! Loving the pepper. Cocoa stands so well with spices and strong savoury flavours.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Katie!
    Irina @ wandercrush.com recently posted…Mulled Wine Cranberry Sauce & Pumpkin CornbreadMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 10:19h, 28 November Reply

      Isn’t it gorgeous! I agree props to her! Best wished for you and your loved ones on Thanksgiving!

  • stacy
    Posted at 07:30h, 29 November Reply

    Gorgeous -both the cookies and the board! Assuming one is able to refrain from eating all of the cookies immediately, how would you recommend storing?
    Thank you.

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 11:24h, 29 November Reply

      Hi Stacy! Thanks for stopping by! I would recommend storing in an airtight container on your counter top. They should keep for at least a week!

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