Ah, I love the time of year when the tree is illuminated, the Christmas music is cranked up, and you can stay inside all day baking cookies. These chewy chocolate cookies with a hint of espresso are rolled in coarse sugar and finished off with cracked black pepper before going in the oven. They’d be a welcome addition to any holiday cookie platter! Thank you, Martha Stewart, for this intriguing spicy/sweet cookie. The recipe that we referred to in her cookie cookbook said that the recipe yields 4 dozen cookies, but we only got 30 cookies. Actually, we ended up with even less because Nikita and I ate several while we were waiting for them to cool 🙂
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more for sprinkling
1 TBS. plus 1 tsp. good-quality instant espresso powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
coarse sanding sugar, for rolling
special equipment: parchment paper, electric mixer
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, pepper, espresso powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.
- Turn out dough onto a piece of parchment paper, and roll into a 2-inch-diameter log. Roll log in parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove log from parchment paper. Let soften slightly at room temperature, about 5 minutes. Roll log in coarse sugar, gently pressing to adhere sugar to dough.
- Transfer log to cutting board. Slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 1 inch apart. Sprinkle some freshly ground pepper on top of each round.
- Bake cookies until there is slight resistance when you lightly touch the centers, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely. You can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.