Peppery chocolate refrigerator cookies.

I spent a terrific day this week with my mom, baking several batches of holiday cookies. In addition to our family-favorite classic almond wreath cookies, we baked up a batch of flavorful chocolate cookies with a spicy kick, thanks to a light sprinkling of finely ground black pepper in each rich bite.

The almond wreath cookies gave me a great excuse to break out my recently acquired vintage cookie press, and it performed beautifully. We made quick work of that batch of holiday cookies, so we browsed through magazines and cookbooks for another type of cookie to make. I recalled a recipe that I had jotted down from a way old issue of Martha Stewart Living; as it happens, we were able to find that.

These chocolate cookies are super-easy to make (simply roll the dough into a cylinder, refrigerate for 90 minutes or so, then slice and bake). And they’re deeply flavored, with hints of coffee, cinnamon and black pepper. They’re a great addition to your holiday cookie plate, a nice contrast to buttery spritz cookies and frosted cut-outs.

peppery chocolate refrigerator cookie recipe

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (we used Ghirardelli)
1/4 tsp. coarse salt
1/4 tsp. finely ground pepper (plus more for sprinkling on top of the cookies)
1 well-rounded Tbsp. instant espresso
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Coarse (decorating) sugar for rolling the dough

Onto a large piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, cocoa, salt, ground pepper, espresso and cinnamon. Using a stand mixer (or electric hand mixer), cream together the butter and sugar for 2 or 3 minutes, until very light and fluffy. Add egg and blend to combine, then add vanilla and mix on low. Tip the waxed paper into the mixing bowl to add flour/cocoa mixture and blend on low speed to combine thoroughly. Turn the dough out onto a piece of waxed or parchment paper; roll it into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle coarse sparkly sugar on all sides and press gently to adhere. Wrap the dough and chill in the fridge for at least an hour; remember to rotate the roll of dough every 15 minutes or so to keep it from flattening on one side. At this point, the dough can also be frozen for several weeks; you can bake it off as you want.

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees; line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit for a few minutes to soften slightly (this makes it easier to slice). Slice 1/8-inch thick; place slices on baking sheet and sprinkle each one with fresh, finely ground black pepper. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cookies are set.

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