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Lemon and Black Pepper Chocolate Cookies

Lemon and Black Pepper Chocolate Cookies

 

My absolute favorite candy bar is dark chocolate with lemon and black pepper.  I use to be able to find these bars at my local market.  Then one day they just disappeared.  Nowhere to be found.  In pure panic, I sent my mom on a mission looking for my favorite chocolate.  Since she lives an hour away, I thought for sure she would find some in her area.  When she came up empty-handed, I desperately did an online search and  found my beloved chocolate bar at Walgreens.  Oh happy day!   You really must try this killer combination–lemon and black pepper.  The pepper gives just a touch of heat but is still subtle enough not to burn.  Unlike my Spicy Chocolate Churros that offer a real kick if that’s your kind of thing. So what could be better than a dark chocolate bar with lemon and black pepper?  That’s right….all that in a cookie!

 

Lemon and Black Pepper Chocolate Cookies
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup candied lemon peel, finely chopped
coarse sugar
pepper for sprinkling
candied lemon peel for sprinkling

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, salt, pepper, espresso powder and cinnamon and set aside.  With an electric mixer, blend butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Mix in egg and vanilla.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture;  mix until combined.  Add in candied lemon peel;  mix until combined.  Turn out dough onto parchment and roll into a 2″ diameter log.  Roll log in parchment.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove log from parchment paper.  Soften slightly, about 5 minutes.  Roll log in coarse sugar.  Cut into 1/4″ thick rounds.  Place rounds on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 1 inch apart.  Sprinkle each round with black pepper and candied lemon peel.  Bake about 10 minutes, until there is a slight resistance when center is touched.  Cool on wire rack.  Store cookies in airtight containers.

 

Candied Lemon Peel
4 lemons
2 cups sugar
2 cups water

Score each lemon into 4 parts.  Slice off both ends.  With a small knife, cut about 1/4″ deep between peel and membrane. Pry off each section, then cut into strips.  With a knife, scrape off as much of the pith as you can. To blanch the peel and rid any bitterness, bring 4 cups of water to a simmer.  Add the peels and simmer for 2 minutes, then drain.  Repeat twice more, using fresh cold water each time.  In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water and slowly bring to a simmer, whisking frequently until sugar syrup is clear.  Add the triple blanched lemon peels to the sugar syrup and simmer for about 1 hour until the peel is translucent and tender.  Remove from the heat.  Using tongs or a fork, remove each piece from the syrup and lay on a wire rack over parchment lined baking sheet.  Let cool and then dry for several hours.  Toss in sugar to coat and set on a clean wire rack to dry (overnight is best).  Store in an airtight container.

 

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