Wow… where is the time going? It’s already the 10th and only Christmas Cookie #3. But don’t panic, we had some unusual surprises recently and the sun still rises and sets daily (where I am) and time goes on. That said, I present Cinnamon, Pepper and Sea Salt cookies. Modified from a blog called “A brown table”. This is full of robust taste – chocolate, spice and salt. This is another one of those recipes you will look at and think – well that’s different! That said, try this – don’t over bake it, and you will be pleasantly surprised with my twist below.

I made a couple of variations of this cookie because there was so much dough that I wanted to try an alternative as well as the original. The first batch – using about ½ the dough, I made into cookie shape as the recipe suggested. Form a ball then roll it in the palms of your hands to make it smooth. Flatten the balls before putting them on the baking tray and sprinkling with Maldon Sea Salt. They did spread slightly but were spaced about 1” apart so there was no overlap or touching.

The second batch, I left in ball shape. I used a 1 tbsp. measuring spoon, scooped out the dough and pressed it into a ball. I was trying to think of how I could complement the ingredients in the cookie and came up with the Cinnamon-Paprika Sugar. I was going to put cayenne but thought for sure I would have lost you there. I made both of these small-ish cookies. The balls, definitely small, the other ones resulted in a two inch diameter cookie but between ¼” and ½” thick. Again, small cookies are my thing at Christmas.

So do try making this cookie. Pleasant surprises in the bite, and I know you and your guests will love it. I promise something sweet with Cookie Number 4, done with the savory. As always – enjoy!

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa, unsweetened
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
1 ½ cups Churn 84 butter, melted and clarified (or bottled ghee)
2 to 3 tablespoons Maldon Sea Salt or Kosher Salt or your favorite flavor of salt – Himalayan Pink, Hawaiian Black etc. for garnish

Cinnamon, Paprika Sugar – combine these ingredients and set aside
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp paprika

Using your whisk mixer and the whisk attachment, add the flour, cocoa, coffee, baking powder, salt, black pepper, cinnamon and sugar – whisk on low (this preempts sifting or straining the flour and cocoa)
In the meat time, melt the Churn 84 butter on the stove top or in the microwave, let it sit – discard any foam from the top and use only the clear golden liquid – the bottom solids can also be discarded
– this is essentially clarified butter or ghee, you can skip this process by buying the ghee, but with a good quality butter, you can assure yourself of the taste and freshness
Add the clarified butter or ghee to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high speed until combined The mixture should look like crumbs – it is not intended to be a dough, test by squeezing a tablespoon full in your hands, it should clump together
Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
Preheat the oven to 350F
Using a large spoon, carefully stir the dough to break up any large clumps of dough – remember it should be grainy, there is enough fat in the mixture to stick together when pressed – the warmth of your hands will help melt the butter so it sticks together and forms a ball
Use a tablespoon measure and make two kinds of cookies
First – press the mixture into a ball and flatten out to make a thick cookie
Sprinkle with Maldon Sea Salt pressing it lightly into the dough – place on a parchment lined baking sheet
Second – press the mixture into a ball, roll until the outside is smooth and round – no creases
Dip the tip of the ball in the cinnamon-paprika sugar and place on the parchment lined baking sheet
Bake for 15-20 minutes – mine took 15 minutes and hardened a bit – to the right consistency, as they cooled – these come soft out of the oven and get crispier as they cool
Cool completely, then brew a cup of coffee or tea, maybe some Grand Marnier on ice – and enjoy
Cookies can be frozen until Christmas in an airtight container