This recipe is based on one my mom used to make regularly. I increased the spices for more of kick and swapped Dutch cocoa for natural –I like Scharffenberger's — for a richer cookie. They're perfect for carving into hearts for Valentine's Day and the dough keeps well in the freezer.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup natural cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon cinnamon
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Directions

Step 1
Sift together flour, cocoa, salt, pepper, cayenne and cinnamon.

Step 2
In a large bowl, cream the butter. Add vanilla, sugar, and beat thoroughly. Beat in egg and gradually add dry ingredients. Blend only until mixed.

Step 3
Turn dough out on lightly floured cutting board/silpat/counter and -- oh yeah: flouring your hands is a good idea too -- shape dough into a cylinder about 10 inches long and two inches in diameter. Wrap cylinder in wax paper and place in freezer until firm, about 20 minutes.

Step 4
Preheat oven to 375. Unwrap dough and cut into slices 1/4-inch thick. Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 10 to 11 minutes. Cookies are done when they are firm to touch.