Sunday, March 21, 2010

[Cookie 068] Chocolate-Black Pepper Cookies


Ohmigod hey! I haven't seen you in forever! You look great! Tan and slim! It must be the lack of posting on this blog which has gotten you out of the kitchen, away from the cookies, and into the burgeoning spring sunshine. All that Vitamin D really has done you good, but it's time to come inside, rev up the ole' oven and computer, and get back to work. I am back. This blog is back. Cookie-making shall commence, and I need partners at my side.


I, for one, just got back from Spring Break vacation in none other than the most cliche college Spring Break vacation spot in the world: Mexico. No, not Tijuana, or Cancun, or even Acapulco (thank god because it got a little scary there this past week, so I heard); instead, I went to a sleepy seaside town with a stunning beach and delicious food that gave me food poisoning. BUMMER! I had a fabulous time aside from the ailment, but even as I write this entry in the comfort of my NYC bed, I am still suffering from abdominal pains to beat the band. Not good. I did get tanner though. Oh but the sickness, the sickness...

What's worse, my diet is now highly compromised, in a bad way. I shouldn't eat too much sugar or heavy foods (not that I even want to), which means no cookies until I feel better. Fortunately, I have quite a few recipes waiting to be posted! Good for you, and good for me!


This one here, these Chocolate-Black Pepper Cookies, were a surprisingly tasty cookie recipe. My friends and I had begun to think that a lot of Martha's chocolate shortbread-like cookies all taste rather similar (ie. Chocolate Charms and Cocoa Shortbread Diamonds), but these had a lot of extra spices and ingredients which really worked in the cookie. You've got cinnamon, espresso, black pepper, plus all that chocolate, and it's really excellent.


Now, I was hesitant, as you might be, about sprinkling freshly ground pepper straight on top of the cookies. I was like, hold up! Back it up! Wha?! Peppa?! Okay, I didn't say all of that, or maybe I did--regardless, it seems a little strange. But it does something crazy to your tastebuds. It almost tastes fruity, in a way, when paired next to the dark chocolate, and all the sugar on the outside. Trust me, you'll like it, and if you're worried, just sprinkle it on a few cookies for the first batch, and after you taste them, you'll be grinding pepper over all the others in no time.


As for the recipe itself? Easy peasy, as usual. I strongly recommend storing your rolls of cookie dough in paper towel tubes in the refrigerator so you can get perfectly round logs. I always save my paper towel rolls (or I try) and people think I'm crazy, but look who's crazy now!! I've got PERFECTLY SYMMETRICALLY ROUND COOKIES!! (Yes, I am still the crazy one...I realize this)

So, in summation, it's good to be back in the USA, even if it does mean no more direct sunlight, beaches, 85ยบ weather, camarones/chilequiles/pina coladas at 9 am---who am I kidding, I wish I was still on vacation, but what can you do! You gotta take that Pepto Bismal, bust out the old text books, and bite the bullet. C'est la vie, but hey, at least it's spring!!!


Chocolate-Black Pepper Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen (I think? Not sure...the website doesn't say)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground pepper, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon good-quality instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Coarse sanding sugar, for rolling

  1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, pepper, espresso powder, and cinnamon into a large bowl; set aside.
  2. Put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined.
  3. Turn out dough onto a piece of parchment paper, and roll into a 2-inch-diameter log. Roll log in the parchment. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove log from parchment paper. Let soften slightly at room temperature, about 5 minutes. Roll log in sanding sugar, gently pressing down to adhere sugar to dough. Transfer log to a cutting board, and slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 1 inch apart. Sprinkle each round with freshly ground pepper.
  5. Bake cookies until there is slight resistance when you lightly touch centers, about 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 days.

{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 3/5 (Sometimes getting the dough into an even log can get tricky--use a ruler pressed against the edge!)
Ingredient Accessibility: 4/5
Tastiness: 4/5
Attractiveness: 3/5
Is it worth it?: Yes, if not just to surprise your friends that pepper can be used in a chocolate dessert!

Drink: Something spicy, like Masala Chai might be nice
Song: Surprise Hotel -- Fool's Gold
Activity: Spring cleaning!


Fran said...

Sorry about the food poisoning! But at least you still had a good time :)
Glad you are back. I wasn't convinced when I saw the Black Pepper, but after reading your post I think I'll give them a try!

ali said...

and how do you get that dough in the paper towel roll?? Maybe I'm just having a hard time visualizing it...

These look delicious, I'm in dire need for a cookie around the house...

Oh, and I'm glad you're back! Go easy on that digestive tract of yours ;)

ali said...

check this out my blogging friend:

you're the inspiration!

banoffee pie said...

I'm so glad I've just found this blog - I LOVE cookies but have never been bothered to make them, I always just bought them. Armed with this blog though I will definitely be trying a few recipes out over the next few weeks!