Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chocolate Pepper Cookies

I started making these cookies every Christmas back when I was a newlywed and my brother-in-law gave me Martha Stewart's Christmas. They are the one cookie about which John asks every year, "Hey, are you going to make those cookies with the pepper in them again?" To which I always reply, "Yes dear, again."


* 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.

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