Once more the Leftover Queen summons me to a Royal Foodie Joust and this time the challenge of concocting a scrumptious edible out of the required three ingredients: black pepper, honey and coffee, was really a cranium stretcher. I've never really cooked with coffee, though I love (need) to slug it down each morning.
The ingredients sounded like something from a medieval cookbook so I did a little research with my cookbook collection and online but nothing struck my fancy. Perhaps a Middle Eastern dish? Again, I was stumped with the flavor combination and it was only after taking a culinary break that I thought about the spicy, peppery holiday cookies from northern Europe, like Icelandic Piparkokur and German Pfefferneuse.
I thought coffee and black pepper needed a third major flavor partner and since chocolate is my universal go-to flavor when baking, I decided on a mocha-flavored cookie with honey sweetener. My first batch of cookies was destined for the dog, Martha, but then I remembered that dogs digest chocolate rather poorly, so I just threw it on the compost pile.
For the second round of cookie dough I got a decent tasting batch with my first tray of cookies but they did spread out too much, so I really had to concentrate when dishing out further lumps onto the greased cookie sheets so that I got the right nuggety size. The second tray also got a sprinkle of Turbinado sugar before baking, which, while not needed for sweetness, adds some dazzle.
This second batch of cookies was more toothsome than the first, but it was still a bit on the arid side, perhaps because that's how all my gluten-free baking experiments end up. However, I got the idea to make them slide down easier when mortared together with a luscious and decadent coffee frosting. I think these are pretty much cookies for grownups, as my kids thought they were a bit too spicy, but they went crazy over the frosting, so I may have to concoct a coffee-frosted cake in the near future. I and my gluten-free husband, Dan, however, really enjoyed these sophisticated cookie sandwiches. One was just enough to suffice as a sweet at the end of our dinner meal and they were also wonderful with our morning mug of coffee.
Mocha Pepper Sandwich Cookies
3-1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend (or all-purpose flour if baking for a glutenous crowd)
1 Tbsp. instant coffee
1 Tbsp. baking cocoa
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup Turbinado or raw sugar crystals
Coffee Buttercream Frosting:
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
4 Tbsp. cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp. instant coffee
1-/12 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In large mixing bowl, mix together flour, 1 tsp. instant coffee, cocoa, cinnamon, black pepper, and salt. Blend in honey, milk, oil and vanilla, mixing well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
Grease cookie sheets and put about 1-1/2 tsp. cookie dough for each cookie, spaced about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with Turbinado sugar crystals.
Bake 8-10 minutes. Cookies will still look a little shiny on top when they are done, but don't overbake or they will be dry as the Sahara.
Remove with spatula to wire racks to cool. When cooled completely, sandwich together with Coffee Buttercream Frosting: Blend together cream cheese and butter until completely blended and fluffy. Add second teaspoon of instant coffee and then gradually beat in powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time.
Makes 18-20 sandwich cookies, depending on your parsimony in placing the batter on the cookie sheets.
Be sure to check the Foodie Forum to see what other jousters are whipping up out of these three intriguing ingredients. It sure is an interesting challenge, and luckily for the Crispy Cook, it came out a sweet success.