If I am being totally honest with myself – baked goods are my absolute favorite part of the Holidays. I was downright giddy toasting my first slice of Christmas stollen earlier this week. And Christmas cookies….I love eating them, baking them and giving them as gifts. My mom is undoubtedly the reason I love to bake and decorate sweet treats. Her sugar cookies are the best around and icing them one by one each Christmas for as long as I can remember is probably why frosting remains one of my favorite drawing mediums.
Chocolate Black Pepper Cookies have become my own Holiday tradition. I keep a roll of these in the fridge at the ready for impromptu guests or last minute gifts all December long. The slice and bake simplicity stands in stark contrast to their complexity of flavor. These cookies do not get anywhere near the decorative attention of my past Christmas cookie creations, simply put – they don’t need it. And really they are so good that you wouldn’t want cute graphics drawing the attention of say little children who might keep you from getting your fill of these incredibly good cookies.
The recipe is one I have adapted from an old Martha Stewart holiday magazine. I think the ingredients used make a big difference and I have tweaked it to make as big a batch as my KitchenAid can muster. You can find the original MS version here and my Holiday helping below:
Chocolate Black Pepper Cookies – adapted from Martha Stewart
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup Valrhona unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 Droste Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for sprinkling
3 TB Medaglia D’oro instant espresso powder
1 tsp Korintje Cinnamon (from Zingermans, of course)
12 ounces (three sticks) room temp butter – I use Plugra for all baking
2 large eggs
1 TB Vanilla Extract (I like this one)
Coarse demura sugar, for rolling
5 pieces 12 x 12 inch parchment or wax paper
1. Whisk together flour, espresso, salt, cocoa, cinnamon and pepper
2. Cream butter until light and fluffy, add sugar. Beat for at least another 4 to 5 minutes until mixture is pale and considerably light in texture. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla.
3. Slowly add dry mix to butter mix, scraping the bowl to insure consistency and mix until well combined.
4. Divide the dough evenly across the five pieces of parchment. Roll to a 1.5 x 10 inch log and chill overnight in the fridge.
5. Preheat oven to 350. Let log sit at room temp for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling long in demura sugar. Slice into 1/4 inch discs and place cookies on a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet, spaced 2 inches apart. Sprinkle each cookie with a little fresh pepper.
6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in 350 degree oven.
I hope you will try these as they really are the best……and perhaps they will become a tradition of your own.