mayan mystery cookies
At New Rivers restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island, these cookies first appeared in a lunchtime cookie basket and quickly rocketed to local fame. Clearlythere's a mystery ingredient here that makes them so good, and their creator offered a free cookie basket to whoever guessed it. But only two people ever did (one of them Julia Child's associate, Nancy Verde Barr). As you can see, it's
cayenne pepper, partnered with its alluring Mexican companion, chocolate.
As Chef Bruce Tillinghast explains, every other item on the menu changes from time to time but not these cookies created by his late wife, Pat.
makes about 60 cookies
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar, plus more for rolling
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon finely (and freshly) ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup cocoa
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
semisweet chocolate morsels
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cream the butter and the 3/4 cup sugar in a food processor. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, spices and cocoa in a medium bowl and add to the butter mixture.
Add the egg and vanilla and mix until the batter is uniform.
Chill the dough for at least one hour.
Using your hands, roll the dough into balls just under one inch in diameter amd tuck about 5 chocolate morsels into the center of each one. Put some sugar in a flat plate and roll the balls in the sugar to cover lightly.
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and place the balls on the sheets. Bake for 8 minutes, being careful not to overbake; the cookies should be delicate and soft in the center. Let cool on the cookie sheets.
Store the cookies in an airtight container, separating the layers with sheets of wax paper.
From "The Best American Recipes 2001-2002"