South African Chocolate Pepper Cookies

November 23, 2015
3 Ratings
Photo by Linda Xiao
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes 40 cookies
Author Notes

Text and recipe from Where Flavor Was Born by Andreas Viestad (Chronicle, 2007).

"I grew addicted to chocolate pepper cookies when I was staying in Cape Town while writing this book. The addition of a generous amount of coarsely ground black pepper gives the cookies real attitude and a nice peppery flavor: At the same time, the pepper also works as a flavor enhancer, so the cookies actually taste more chocolatey.

"The secret is to find the right balance between sweet chocolate and pungent pepper. I like the cookies rather on the peppery side. Start by adding a little pepper and make one small batch to sample, then add more pepper to taste." —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped and divided
  • 12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Melt 8 ounces of the chocolate and set aside.
  2. Beat the butter until light and airy. Add the sugar and beat until completely incorporated into butter.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift or whisk the flour and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to to butter mixture little by little, until just incorporated.
  5. Mix the melted chocolate into the butter mixture. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate and the ground pepper. Cover and refrigerate until dough is cool and firm.
  6. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or grease generously).
  7. Drop the batter by the tablespoonful onto the baking sheet, about 1 inch apart on sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until crisp on outside but still chewy inside.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Amber Roeder
    Amber Roeder
  • Sarah
  • Susanw
  • Abbey

5 Reviews

Susanw December 11, 2021
Absolutely amazing i don't even bake and needed a South African cookie recipe for office bake off. Easy and amazing delicious
Amber R. March 25, 2018
Yummy! Glad I added the pinch of cinnamon and cayenne pepper as Blair suggested. My one suggestion would be to not melt the chocolate until the batter is ready for it. It was hard to incorporate the chocolate in after it had been sitting for a little while.
Abbey March 13, 2018
Wow where in Cape Town can I find such a cookie? I've lived here for four years and never seen such a thing. Sounds interesting though.
Blair December 9, 2016
These were extremely easy to make - as in the comment below I added cayenne and a pinch of cinnamon to warm them up a bit, but even without them, the black pepper is definitely not overwhelming. The dough was also super simple to work with - not sticky at all, though in retrospect it needs something extra, moisture-wise (like what i'm used to for soft gooey cookies that end up all over your hands in the rolling process!) I took my cookies out of the oven just before 10 minutes hit - still a bit of brown coming out on a toothpick (perhaps melted chocolate) though the edges were solid, not over-done, and yet still I am finding them a bit crumbly. They're not cakey or brownie-y, but they definitely need a bit more moisture in the future as barely biting into them makes them fall apart - not a problem I have ever had in the past. These are similar in concept to Frida Kahlo cookies on Splendid Table that I swear by, so I may try a combo of the two recipes and see if I can get the texture better in the future. Definitely a fun cookie that taste-wise, was a hit among friends!
Sarah December 4, 2016
These are wonderful! I just took my first batch out of the oven and they are perfectly chocolatey with a whisper of spice. Next go round I think I'll try a pinch of cayenne, as well.