Spicy Chocolate Cookies

I saw this recipe in Real Simple several years ago but never made them. I'm glad I finally did because they are quick, simple, unique, and so amazingly delicious.

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

⅛ to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)

1 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix thoroughly with a whisk and set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the brown sugar and beat until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on high until fluffy, about 1 minute. Gradually mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture until the butter is just incorporated. The dough will be crumbly.
2. Turn the dough out onto wax paper. Use the paper (and fingers) to shape and roll the dough into a compact cylinder about 10 inches long and 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. Wrap tightly, folding or twisting the ends to seal. Chill for at least 45 minutes in the refrigerator or freeze (for up to 3 months) until needed.
3. Before baking, preheat oven to 375°. Unwrap the dough (if frozen, let thaw for 5 minutes). On a cutting board, cut it into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Place the slices about 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool until the cookies are firm enough to be moved, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Variation: add 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips after flour and butter mixtures are incorporated.


Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Another great recipe for those abundant summer zukes. And perfect for the visiting teachee. ha ha!

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup bakers cocoa
1 cup oil
2 cups grated zucchini (one large or three small)*
3 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts (optional)

*you don't need to squeeze any of the water out of the zucchini like some recipes call for.

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans. 

2. Whisk flour, soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugars, cocoa, oil, and vanilla and mix well. Stir in grated zucchini with a wooden spoon or spatula. Stir dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into pans.

4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let sit for 10 minutes in pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool.