These are Viennese Chocolate Pepper cookies. But it’s not the country of origin that grabbed my attention–it was the leading role of the two star ingredients. Chocolate and black pepper have become my new go-to spice pairing.
There is no shortage of chocolate and red hot chili peppers. Seriously. Anyone who has read this blog more than once has probably picked up on my obsession with Vosges haute chocolates. Chocolate and red chili pepper? They have it in spades.
But what about the more humble black pepper? You know…the stuff you use every day? We try and dress it up by adding a list of adjectives: Some fresh ground, organic, cracked, black pepper for your salad? But the truth is black pepper, like salt, is often taken for granted. Pity. Especially when its humble addition can turn a simple cookie into an experience.
Don’t believe me? My husband made these black pepper cookies four years ago! I always remembered them and finally put them back into the kitchen rotation. This recipe is adapted from The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book by Bruce Weinstein.
Viennese Chocolate Pepper Cookies
- 1.5 cups flour, plus additional for dusting the work surface
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 oz. cool, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (1.5 sticks)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (make sure you’re using true allspice, not a blend).
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
- Beat the butter about 1 min. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy (I used a stand mixer). If it’s a little gritty beat an additional 2 minutes.
- Beat in 3/4 teaspoon of the pepper and the allspice. Beat in egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Scrape down sides of the bowl as needed.
- Lightly dust the work surface with flour and turn the dough on it. Roll into a 9-inch log (geek alert–I used a ruler). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate about 3 hours.
- Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Slice the log into 1/4 inch-thick slices and place on sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 6 minutes then rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back (encourages and even heat).
- Bake for 6 more minutes until slightly puffed or springy to the touch.
- In a small bowl mix the confectioners’ sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. After all the cookies are cooled sift the sugar-pepper mixture over the cookies.
Want another chocolate pepper combination?
Here is a dreamy recipe for a milk chocolate black pepper ice-cream from David Lebovitz. It uses incredible pepper and a touch of crème fraîche to the recipe. David lives in Paris so this recipe is filled with l’èsprit Francaise along with David’s witty observations.
The Salt Traders is an online vendor with an impressive list of exotic peppers. With names like Bali Long, Comet’s Tail, Lampung, Muntok White, Sarawak Creamy White and Sarawak Black it’s just fun cruising through their site. Incidentally, these peppercorns aren’t even part of their Rare Collection. Fortunately, you can try samples which I plan on doing for the sole purpose of perfecting these two recipes.