New This Month

Chocolate-Black Pepper Cookies


These crunchy cookies get a flavorful kick from black pepper and cinnamon.

  • Yield: Makes about 4 dozen


  • 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.

Reviews Add a comment

  • Simpatico_LT
    10 DEC, 2012
    I used ground espresso instead of instant, and I also substituted grated, unsweetened baking chocolate for a small portion of the cocoa. I didn't notice any graininess from undissolved espresso grounds (which I ground even more finely than I usually do for our espresso drinks), and I loved the strong chocolate and coffee taste and smell. These were a big hit at my neighborhood holiday celebration, and I think they might be my new favorite cookie.
  • ellenmm
    9 MAY, 2012
    I found the dough hard to shape into a nice cylinder, so the cookies look a bit unprofessional. There's a lot of cinnamon flavor, and not enough deep chocolate taste, My husband said that in a blind test he'd guess they were cinnamon cookies.
  • marthalike
    25 JAN, 2011
    Instant espresso powder is NOT the same as ground coffee beans. The ground coffee beans will not dissolve in the recipe. You can find the instant espresso powder in a jar in the section of the grocery where regular coffe is sold or at specialty food stores like an Italian marketplace.
  • manorgarden
    25 JAN, 2011
    To help cut the log w/o having to roll out the dough, I use a thread. Wrap it around the log of cookie dough, cross on top and pull, as if you were making a knot. This is a technique the Czech use to cut their traditional dumplings - the thread is sharp and slides through the soft dough like a wire. You just need to go slow and not wobble, so that the slice is even.
  • DairyGodmother
    8 DEC, 2010
    I've come to love these - they are a grown-up chocolate cookie. I skip the sprinkling of pepper at the end - though I do include it in the recipe. It gives it a bite but is not too strong. I actually grind my pepper into a powder in my mortar
  • cayanna
    18 SEP, 2010
    Cerine, if you don't want to use espresso powder for kids, try to find some chocolate extract online. It can be expensive but it will enrich the chocolate flavor. Just substitute for some or all of the vanilla extract and make sure its for baked goods, some are not.
  • MissElliePhD
    5 APR, 2010
    These are fabulous! Everyone loves them. The first time I made them the "log" lost its shape as I cut it. So the second go I rolled it out and used cookie cutters to make shapes (biscuit cutters for simple round ones). They came out great! If you like them even spicier, add a tsp of cayenne pepper - they're rich and chocolatey at first, and then have a nice bite at the end. Really delicious!
  • CaliDog
    21 MAR, 2010
    The coffee is in there simply to enhance the flavour of the chocolate. I have chocolate cake recipes that include coffee, but you don't taste the coffee. I wouldn't leave it out.
  • cerine
    10 MAR, 2010
    Any idea for a substitute for espresso powder, my toddler would really enjoy these cookies .
  • MS11018218
    7 MAR, 2010
    Hello Vietnamvetwife......Yes, espresso powder is the same. The same beans are used for espresso beans as for regular coffe, it's just that they are ground much finer than regular coffee.