Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chocolate Salt and Pepper Thins

Another day, another batch of cookies to give to my friends and family. For my friend Liney, I wanted something unique. And I knew exactly what ingredient I wanted to incorporate - black pepper.

During college, Liney would put black pepper on just about anything in the dining hall. We'd always share french fries covered in pepper and ketchup (and while I've grown away from the ketchup, I still use pepper on my fries). There are many foods that are very "college" to me, including lychees, but pepper is the only "college" spice I can think of.

So pepper cookies. I was going to go with a jazzed-up pfeffernusse for Liney, but her mother lived in Germany for a while, and I was sure any recipe she had was going to be better than what I could make. Luckily, an old Martha Stewart magazine knew what I was thinking and offered up a recipe that I tweaked a bit.

I call them chocolate salt and pepper thins. Now, that might sound kind of disgusting to some, or like a savory cracker to others, but really, it's a fantastic and delicate sweet cookie. The cocoa and espresso work together for a really rich background flavor, while the salt on top kind of explodes with flavor. You don't taste the pepper right away, but you recognize it after a moment, and if you eat more than one, the flavor intensifies.

Chocolate Salt and Pepper Thins

1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
black pepper for sprinkling
coarse fleur de sel for sprinkling

Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add flour, cocoa, salt, black pepper, espresso powder, and cinnamon and mix to incorporate. Turn out dough on a piece of parchment paper and roll into a log, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap in parchment and freeze at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°. Let dough soften at room temperature about 5 minutes or until sliceable. Slice into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Place rounds on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with pepper and fleur de sel. Bake about 10 minutes, until there is slight resistance when you lightly touch the cookie centers. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.


Anonymous said...

I'm totally going to make these. They sound delicious.

In other salt/sweet news, I had my first salted caramel the other day. My tongue has disdain for every other sweet now. I mean, I eat other sweets anyway, but disdainfully.

Pam said...

Yes, non-salted sweets should be treated with disdain. As should regular table salt when there's fleur de sel around.

Liney said...

Testimonial - they taste like rich dark chocolate. THANKS PAM :)

Pam said...

I'm so glad you liked them!