12 Days of Cookies: #8 Mexican Chocolate Cookies


By now you know that I don’t care much for chocolate. Unfortunately, most of my friends do and so I thought I would try to selflessly include one chocolate recipe in this cookie carnival. My goal was to find a recipe I might actually like, which means there needed to be lots of butter and other distractions. These Mexican Chocolate Cookies are the perfect compromise. They are a rich chocolate-flavored butter cookie spiced with cinnamon and cayenne pepper. They are tasty and were a big hit with my friends. They are especially nice with a cup of coffee. And because they are slice and bake, you can have freshly baked cookies whenever you like which makes them perfect for the holiday season.


Believe it or not, there are still more cookies coming your way. Tune in tomorrow for another favorite recipe!

Mexican Chocolate Cookies (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you can use less if you prefer less heat)
  • 20 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 1/2 sticks), softened to cool room temperature (about 65 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup sugar (7 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (11 1/4 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar (or other raw or sanding sugar)

In medium skillet set over medium heat, toast almonds, cinnamon, and cayenne until fragrant, about 3 minutes; set aside to cool. In food processor fitted with metal blade, process cooled mixture until very fine, about 15 seconds. Set aside.

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and instant espresso powder; stir until mixture forms smooth paste. Set aside to cool, 15 to 20 minutes.

In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix remaining 16 tablespoons butter, sugar, salt, and cooled cocoa mixture on high speed until well combined and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping sides of mixing bowl once or twice with rubber spatula. Add yolks and vanilla and mix on medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl. Whisk nut/spice mixture into flour. With mixer running on low, add flour mixture in three additions, waiting until each addition is incorporated before adding next and scraping bowl after each addition. Continue to mix until dough forms cohesive ball, about 5 seconds. Shape into dough log, 2 inches in diameter and about 12 inches long; use parchment paper or plastic wrap to roll into neat cylinder. Chill until very firm and cold, at least 1 hour. (At this point the dough can be frozen for up to a couple of weeks.)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Roll chilled log in sugar. Slice cookies 1/4 inch thick and place on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake until cookies show slight resistance to touch, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time; if cookies begin to darken on edges, they have overbaked. Cool for 5 minutes, then, using spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack; cool completely.


Previously on the 12 Days of Cookies:

#1 Marlow & Sons Shortbread

#2 Dorie Greenspan’s Linzer Sables

#3 Apricot Bow Ties

#4 101 Cookbooks Sparkling Ginger Chip Cookies

#5 Almond-Anise Cookies

#6 Lebkuchen

#7 The Wednesday Chef’s Cardamom Cookies

28 comments to “12 Days of Cookies: #8 Mexican Chocolate Cookies”

  1. I am making these this weekend. I love the flavors of Mexican Chocolate. Simply wonderful.

  2. What’s the yield on this recipe?

  3. I got about 3 dozen cookies out of the recipe, it will vary depending on how accurate you are with slicing.

  4. Very cool!! Love this idea! great site and photos! :)

  5. Tim, I’m having a lot of fun following this series. Since I may not have the chance to make a lot of (or any!) cookies for Christmas due to a number of reasons, I’m living vicariously through L&D. :) Luisa’s was one of my first food blog loves, as well. Still is! Hope you’re enjoying the holidays so far. xo

  6. This cookie project has spurred a vegan to add butter and eggs to my shopping list!
    After all – it’s holiday time – better butter, eggs and sugar than a lot of other things one can think of!

  7. jennifer morrison says:

    December 8th, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Thanks for the chocolate. It’s necessary.

  8. I DO like chocolate and those look amazing. Love the addition of cayenne. That should compliment the chocolate and cinnamon quite well. Looking forward to the next ‘day.’

  9. Sounds yummy! Do they turn out crisp and crunchy or more soft?

  10. Hi Olivia, they are not soft. I wouldn’t describe them as crunchy either. But crunchier than soft.

  11. Is the cocoa powder unprocessed cocoa powder, or dutch-processed? I’m not sure if it would make a difference here since there’s no chemical leavening, but they are still different …

  12. You can use either. The recipe suggested dutch-processed, but I used natural with great results.

  13. Hello!

    thank you for a great list! Quick question…if I refrigerate these cookies, lets say for a week, do I need to bring them to room temperature before baking?

    Same question for the Cardamom Pistachio Cookies. Actually for that I am wondering if it can stay in the fridge as a log for a week too!

    I have taken on way too much stuff this season! Plan is to make some logs on a saturday, bake up friday!

    Thank you in advance!


  14. Hi Yosha, You should freeze the logs and then put them in the refrigerator the night before you plan on baking. Do not bring them to room temperature, they need to remain chilled. Happy baking!

  15. These cookies look outstanding! I plan to make them this afternoon once I get home from work!

  16. Fabulous! I made these cookies and took them to a cookie exchange last night. They looked super gourmet, and they were easy to make–perfect combination! Thanks for sharing!

  17. i haven’t even gotten these sliced and into the oven, and i can already tell this will be my favorite recipe this year, and one i make annually for years to come! thanks for this~

    p.s. i used Taster’s Choice Hazelnut instant coffee in place of the espresso powder, and it compliments and amps up the flavor nicely!!

  18. Just came out of the oven and wow!! Used a heaping 1/4 tsp of cayenne and at the first bite, I felt I should have used more for a real good kick. But then it hit after the wonderful chocolate flavor – DELICIOUS!! And just enough kick! Rolled in red sanding sugar since it’s what I had and looks great for Christmas. Also only had salted butter and left out the salt and it’s fine (although I prefer to use unsalted butter). Can’t wait to see what everyone says. I thank you very much as well for posting!

  19. ok, i am obsessed with you. i’m a new fan and discovered your beautiful site through 101 cookbooks and heidi’s christmas cookie post…i’m sure heidi’s ginger cookie is delish because she’s a genius, but i just baked your OMG YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY mexican chocolate cookie adaptation from my fave cooks illustrated. i took them to a christmas party. someone asked for my hand in marriage. words of love were tossed all over the place. i felt like a princess. i was wearing a tiara, but it’s the holidays! you’re supposed to sparkle!

  20. Wow, Princess Rebecca! I am glad this recipe could be part of what seems like a very magical evening!

  21. Made these last night. They have great flavor but my version were so incredibly delicate they broke when anyone picked them up. Is that correct, or did I mismeasure? They were a hit–but also a mess all over my floor. There are worse problems, I know, but just wanted confirmation as to if others had this experience.

  22. Hi Emily! I didn’t have this problem, and I have heard from a few people who made these already and they didn’t report this problem either. Perhaps a measuring problem?

  23. tim,
    these cookies were to die for. i didn’t have cayenne pepper, so i used a little chili oil instead. oh my god. so good! thank you for this recipe.

  24. Hey, I mistakenly purchased regular espresso coffee and I don’t have any instant anything lying around. What should I do?…

  25. These were fantasic! I love how the chili and coffee highlights the chocolate…but hey I guess that’s the point! I may have overdosed a bit on the chillie but still great! Thank you for hosting this…already looking fwd to next yrs list!

    Merry Christmas and best wishes for the happiest New Year!


  26. O thank GOD I finally have the recipe for these. Michelle used to make a similar cookie at the Bleeding Heart Bakery, but they haven’t had them in the store for over a year now. I substituted pecans for almonds, and it worked out great.

  27. Kathy_witha_k says:

    December 2nd, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    OMG these sound awesome cannot wait to try them!!

  28. Like the author, I’m not a big chocolate fan, but have many friends & colleagues who are, and decided to make a sacrifice. Searched the internet high and low for something unique – and wow, were these fabulous! Even I am addicted. Made them last year and again this year, quadruple batches, and they vanish in the blink of an eye. Amazing flavor combo, almonds toasted in cinnnamon and cayenne, espresso with cocoa, mmmmm. Best cookie ever.

What do you think?