Chocolate-Cayenne Cocktail Cookies

This time of year, it’s always a challenge to find something fun and festive to serve to your guests when they walk in the door. I usually go with my personal favorite, some kind of charcuterie, cheese, bread, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, but sometimes that can be a bit boring. I saw this recipe in the most recent issue of Food and Wine Magazine, and at first, I was a bit hesitant, but the cookies looked so pretty that I had to give them a try. They definitely pair best with red wine or a dark beer, and it’s strange to think that a cookie would go well with either of those things, but trust me; your guests will be thrilled to snack on these as they sip their drinks instead of the usual crackers or meat plate. The cayenne pepper definitely adds a kick, too – I was skeptical that I would be able to taste the cayenne, especially because I love spicy food and never think that anything is spicy enough, but the heat really comes through and helps to cut the richness of the chocolate, making it, again, the perfect cocktail cookie.

Chocolate-Cayenne Cocktail Cookies
Your ingredients.

Chocolate-Cayenne Cocktail Cookies
Whisk together your dry ingredients.

Chocolate-Cayenne Cocktail Cookies
Beat together your butter and sugars, until creamy, then beat in your egg.

Chocolate-Cayenne Cocktail Cookies
Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, until just moistened.

Chocolate-Cayenne Cocktail Cookies
Knead the dough until it comes together.

Chocolate-Cayenne Cocktail Cookies
Then roll the dough out between two pieces of wax or parchment paper until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Freeze for 1 hour, until firm.

Chocolate-Cayenne Cocktail Cookies
When you’re ready to bake, cut out your cookies with a 1 1/2 inch cutter.

Chocolate-Cayenne Cocktail Cookies
Place about 1 inch apart on your baking sheet.

Chocolate-Cayenne Cocktail Cookies
And sprinkle with Maldon sea salt. Bake for 13-15 minutes or so, turning the pans halfway through, until firm.

Chocolate-Cayenne Cocktail Cookies
Allow to cool before serving.

Chocolate-Cayenne Cocktail CookiesChocolate-Cayenne Cocktail Cookies

Chocolate-Cayenne Cocktail Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 60-70
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (I found this small amount really packs a punch - if you are very sensitive to heat, I would recommend using ¼ teaspoon, giving the dough a taste, and adding another ¼ teaspoon if you feel it's needed)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed
  • ⅓ cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Maldon salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling
  1. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cayenne pepper, and salt into a medium sized bowl. In the bowl of your mixer, beat together the butter, confectioners' sugar, and granulated sugar, until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add in the egg yolk and beat until combined. Gently mix in the flour mixture until just moistened.
  2. Lightly flour your work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Knead it a few times until it becomes workable and manageable (it should only take about 5-6 kneads/turns). Divide the dough in half and form each half into a disc with your hands. Place one disc on a sheet of parchment paper and then place another sheet on top. Roll each disc out separately between two pieces of parchment paper until it is about ¼-inch thick. Place the parchment lined dough onto a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, until firm - the dough is too soft to cut out at this point, so don't skip this step.
  3. When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Peel the top sheet of parchment or wax paper off one piece of dough, and cut out with a 1½-inch round cookie cutter (a shot glass would probably work well, too). Place the cookies on the cookie sheet about 1 inch apart, as they will not spread much at all, and sprinkle with a bit of Maldon salt. Bake for 13-15 minutes or so, until firm, rotating the sheets halfway through baking time. Allow to cool completely before serving or storing. They will keep well in an airtight container for up to 5 days at room temperature.
  4. As an alternative, you can wrap the sheets of rolled out cookie dough in wax paper and freeze them for up to two weeks.
Adapted From


18 Responses

  1. […] Chocolate-Cayenne Cocktail Cookies The Crepes of Wrath Fri, December 9, 2011 3:24 PM UTC The Crepes of Wrath Rate this story Loading … Share (function(){var […]

  2. RRA says:

    I am hosting a beer tasting tomorrow, and I’m going to try to squeeze in time to make these. Thanks for posting!

  3. aarthi says:

    Wow..This is a awesome cookies…I love the combo of sweet and saltyness…Yummy Sydney

  4. these cookies look amazing. thanks for sharing

  5. Sydney, these look fabulous AND beautiful! I can’t wait to try them this holiday season. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Dana says:

    These are super yummy, I’d wager! I’ve done some playing with chocolate and chipolte, so I can see these being tasty. I love the idea of salting them.

  7. Rhonda says:

    I recently had ghost chili salted chocolate caramel, what an awesome flavor combo. These look like they would be right up the same alley.

  8. I could definitely go for some strong chocolate cookies and red wine. yum!

    • Sydney says:

      It was a great way to unwind, believe me.

    • Ellie says:

      The dough was so soft even after several hours bin freezer. Could not get them on the cookie sheet to bake. I rolled into small ball then flattened with fingers and added salt. They look nothing like pictures but very good. Too bad luv taste but not the added effort

  9. windRomance says:

    look real nice when u line them up.L OL. yea and i bet it goes good with red wine 😉

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