Salt and Pepper Cocoa Shortbread

I came this close to sitting out this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. Tia of Buttercream Barbie selected the salt and pepper cocoa shortbread and, I’ll be honest, I’m still not really on board with the idea of pepper in my desserts. Salt? Absolutely. But pepper – frankly, I’m not even a huge fan of it in my savory dishes, nevermind my cookies. But the recipe was easy to scale back (I halved it), and even if I didn’t like them, I was pretty sure I could find someone who would. I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa (I think it’s a combination of natural and Dutch-processed cocoa powders) because I like the super dark, rich color it gives chocolate treats. I may have backed off just a tad on the pepper, using maybe 3/4 of the amount Dorie suggested.

Salt and Pepper Cocoa Shortbread

I misread the instructions in the book, which said to refrigerate the dough for 4 hours – for some reason, I thought it said freeze instead. So when I pulled the dough out after only 3 1/2 hours, I felt a bit rebellious. This morning I was reading through the recipe again and discovered my error, now I just feel silly. I was wondering why it was such a challenge to slice the log of dough, now I know :) The end pieces on slice and bake cookies are rarely attractive, so I reserved them as my test subjects. I have to say, I really enjoyed these cookies! Like some of my other favorite shortbread cookies, these were just a little crumbly and oh so tender. I could taste the salt, though it was subtle, and fortunately (for me anyway), the pepper was pretty much undetectable. The half recipe only made 12 cookies, and I definitely could have made short work of them. Instead, I wrapped them and stuck them in the freezer to enjoy another day.

Tia shared the recipe for the cookies on her blog today, or you can find it on pages 128-129 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.

Salt and Pepper Cocoa Shortbread