sea salt, cherry and pepperberry cacao shortbread

sea salt, cherry and pepperberry cacao shortbread

or salt & pepper cocoa shortbread – either way, dee-lish!

 

 

cherry, pepperberry, sea salt, cacao shortbread

 

sea salt, cherry and pepperberry cacao shortbread – now try saying that 3 times fast 🙂

I have a lovely new sea salt blend: cherry and tasmanian pepperberry and was flicking through my rather large (yes, TOO large) collection of cookbooks looking for inspiration; for new ways to put it to use. I wanted to make something special to really maximise the lovely salty-sweet-spicy nature of this salt blend.

I’ve had a copy of this book Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dori Greenspan for some time and was super excited when when I came upon her recipe for salt and pepper cocoa shortbread. I knew it was just the right recipe for my purposes.

Salted sweets have been HUGE lately, and spicy sweets have also had their fair share of attention. But sweet, salty AND spicy. Well that’s not something you see every day. But it SHOULD be. These are delicious.

These shortbreads are not quite sweet, and not quite savory. When you bite into one you immediately get a hint of sweetness from the cherry and sugar, a slightly bitter, almost smokey flavor of cacao which then turns into a slow spicy/peppery burn from the pepperberry and finishes with a sharp bite of the sea salt. These aren’t the cookies you want to give to the kids for an after school treat. But if you’re looking for something a little different and unexpected, these are sure to be a very pleasant surprise.

 

Print Recipe
sea salt, cherry and pepperberry cacao shortbread
Now, don't be put off if you don't yet have the cherry and pepperberry sea salt blend. Simply substitute sea salt flakes and coarsely ground black pepper. And the raw cacao I used can be replaced with unsweetened cocoa powder.
Cuisine tasmanian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 4 hour
Servings
cookies (approx)
Ingredients
the shortbread
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2/3 cup icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk large
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract or better still fresh vanilla from the pod
  • 1 tsp cherry & pepperberry sea salt or use 1/2 tsp sea salt and 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
the roll mix
  • 1-2 tsp cherry & pepperberry sea salt or use a mix of sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper in a ratio you prefer
  • 1 Tbs coarse sugar I used raw sugar crystals
  • egg wash beaten egg with either milk or water
Cuisine tasmanian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 4 hour
Servings
cookies (approx)
Ingredients
the shortbread
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2/3 cup icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk large
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract or better still fresh vanilla from the pod
  • 1 tsp cherry & pepperberry sea salt or use 1/2 tsp sea salt and 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
the roll mix
  • 1-2 tsp cherry & pepperberry sea salt or use a mix of sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper in a ratio you prefer
  • 1 Tbs coarse sugar I used raw sugar crystals
  • egg wash beaten egg with either milk or water
Instructions
  1. Sift together the flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl.
    sea-salt-cherry-pepperberry-cacao-shortbread-sift
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-low until smooth (or mix by hand with a wooden spoon if you have the time and energy). Add the sugar and continue to beat until butter is satiny. Add the egg yolk, salt, pepper and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  3. Add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, beating on low speed only until each lot is fully incorporated.
  4. Turn out the dough on a floured work surface. Divide the dough in half and roll into two 2.5-3 cm thick logs (about 15 cm long). Roll the logs back and forth under your palms to get a good shape. Once formed, wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours. TIP: Placing your plastic wrapped shortbread dough rolls inside a paper towel roll (or similar) will help them to keep shape and not flatten on one side while they rest in the fridge.
    gourmet-flavoured-salts-cherry-and-tasmanian-pepperberry
  5. To bake, preheat your oven to 175C (350F).
  6. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Remove the dough rolls from the fridge, brush each roll with egg wash and sprinkle with the cherry and pepperberry salt blend (or salt and black pepper) and sugar mixture.
  8. Use a sharp knife to cut logs into rounds and place them on the baking sheet, leaving approx 3 cm between them.
    sea-salt-cherry-and-pepperberry-cacao-shortbread-cutting
  9. Bake for 14-16 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the 7-minute mark.
  10. Remove from oven and let sit on the tray for a few minutes - they will firm up enough to lift without breaking in this time. Transfer to wire cooling rack to cool to room temperature.
Recipe Notes

Make it gluten free: use your prefered gluten free flour (either a home-made mix or pre-packaged). Depending on your choice of flour mix (there are many different blends) you may not be able to do a straight 1:1 replacement as your shortbread will be too crumbly. You may need to add xanthan gum to help bind the dough and tapioca starch or rice flour to help make the shortbread crisp.

Make it sugar free: Use stevia and a bulking agent of your choice. See here for stevia information. Be aware that your substitution may change the texture of your shortbread so substitute with care. Also take into consideration that the sugar crystals around the outside of the cookies will caramelise slightly and add a crunchy deliciousness that you'd miss with stevia.

Make it egg free: Just leave it out of the shortbread mixture! Traditional shortbread doesn't contain eggs so you won't miss it. And try water or milk to bind the sugar/salt/pepper mix to the outside.

Make it dairy free: Now, a disclaimer: I haven't tried this... I have seen recipes online for a direct swap of the butter for the same amount of coconut oil. If you try this, we'd love to hear how it goes. Let us know below.

 

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These sea salt, cherry and pepperberry cacao shortbreads are unique and surprisingly complex. I hope you try them out soon.

Did you like this salty-spicy-sweet recipe? If so, I’m sure you’ll love these too:

6 salty sweet treats from around the web (compiled by apinchof.com.au)

 


 

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