This recipe is based on one my mom used to make regularly. I increased the spices for more of kick and swapped Dutch cocoa for natural --I like Scharffenberger's -- for a richer cookie. They're perfect for carving into hearts for Valentine's Day and the dough keeps well in the freezer. —Midge
Sift together flour, cocoa, salt, pepper, cayenne and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, cream the butter. Add vanilla, sugar, and beat thoroughly. Beat in egg and gradually add dry ingredients. Blend only until mixed.
Turn dough out on lightly floured cutting board/silpat/counter and -- oh yeah: flouring your hands is a good idea too -- shape dough into a cylinder about 10 inches long and two inches in diameter. Wrap cylinder in wax paper and place in freezer until firm, about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375. Unwrap dough and cut into slices 1/4-inch thick. Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 10 to 11 minutes. Cookies are done when they are firm to touch.
I’m a journalist who’s covered everything from illegal logging in Central America to merit pay for teachers, but these days I write mostly about travel. I’ve been lucky enough to find myself in some far-flung locales, where poking around markets and grocery stores is my favorite thing to do. Cooking, especially baking, is my way of winding down after a long day; there’s nothing like kneading bread dough to bring you back to earth.