Espelette pepper’s mild heat and subtle fruitiness make it an excellent companion to chocolate. Chefs in the Basque region of France tend to use it in chocolate mousse or layer cakes, but here I add it to an easy cocoa drop cookie, based on a recipe by Sally Sampson of Chop Chop magazine. Note that the butter and the eggs both need to be at room temperature, so don’t forget to set them out at least half an hour before you want to start mixing.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons piment d’Espelette
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet (or two, if you have them) with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, Espelette, and salt in a medium bowl.
3. Combine the butter and sugar in a stand mixer and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, combine them in a large mixing bowl and mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until smooth.) Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix again. Add the dry ingredients and mix until everything is well incorporated then scrape down the sides of the bowl and briefly mix again.
4. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough on the prepared cookie sheet about 2 inches apart, put in the oven and bake until the underside and edges of the cookie begin to firm up, about 12 minutes. Be careful not to overbake. Allow to cool completely on the cookie sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough.
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