Mexican Chocolate Shortbread Cookies — These buttery shortbread cookies are full of chocolate, cinnamon-and-sugar, and a bit of spice thanks to a couple unique ingredients! They remind me of a good cup of Mexican hot chocolate, in cookie form. Great for cookie exchanges because they keep well and the perfect conversation piece cookie to set out at your next holiday party or fiesta!
Table of Contents
- Easy Mexican Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- Ingredients in Mexican Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- How to Make Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate and Spices
- Tips for the Best Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- Storage Instructions
- Serving Suggestions
- Recipe FAQs
- Mexican Chocolate Shortbread Cookies Recipe
- More Chocolate Cookie Recipes:
Easy Mexican Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
These easy, moist, and slightly crunchy chocolate Mexican shortbread cookies will be the perfect addition to any dessert table. They’re just sweet enough, but not too sweet, and full of layers of warming flavors.
Whether you want to include them in the lineup for Christmas parties (posadas), as a unique cookie exchange offering, or make them for Cinco de Mayo, they’ll be just perfect.
These cookies are a delightful twist on the classic shortbread, bringing a touch of Mexico’s culinary flair to your holiday cookie platter or your next fiesta.
Imagine sinking your teeth into a heavenly combination of rich chocolate and warm spices with just a hint of heat. And no, these cookies are not spicy!
I know that actually spicy chocolate is trendy right now, but these cookies aren’t spicy. The two secret ingredients give the cookies depth of flavor and a tiny bit of heat but by no means are they spicy.
Wondering what the secret ingredients are?*
These easy Mexican chocolate cookies include the perfect blend of unsweetened cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper*, and a hint of cayenne pepper* to create a flavor symphony that will leave your taste buds dancing with joy. You cannot taste the cayenne nor the black pepper, but rather they contribute to the wonderful depth of flavor.
Fun Ingredients Facts
There’s also only white sugar – no brown sugar – in the cookies.
Sometimes people have dietary restrictions, or they’re simply curious if I forgot an ingredient or two, but in this case these are egg-free cookies and brown sugar-free cookies!
Ingredients in Mexican Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
To make this easy recipe for Mexican hot chocolate cookies, you’ll only need a handful of easy to find and very common ingredients including the following:
- All-purpose flour
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Cayenne pepper – just 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper so they won’t be spicy!
- Black pepper
- Unsalted butter at room temperature
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Coarse sugar, optional
- Confectioners’ sugar, optional
Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.
How to Make Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate and Spices
Making Mexican shortbread cookies is so easy to do with my simple instructions and about 15 minutes of hands on prep time. With just 8 to 10 mins of bake time, they’re ready in a total time of less than 1 hour.
So grab your electric mixer, whisk, and baking sheet and let’s get started!
Step 1: Combine the dry ingredients (except sugar) together in a medium bowl. In separate bowl beat butter, sugar and vanilla together until creamy.
Step 2: Slowly beat in the flour mixture to the wet ingredients until combined and you have a large dough ball. It will be stiff.
Step 3: Roll dough into a log on parchment paper OR roll out until ⅛ inch thick between two pieces of parchment. Either way – chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Two Ways to Make the Cookie Shapes
1. You can either roll the dough into a log, refrigerate it, and use it to make slice-and-bake cookies.
2. Or you can refrigerate the dough, roll it out, and use cookie cutters to make cut out cookies. This is what I did using a small star-shaped cutter.
Step 4A: If rolled into a log, cut into ¼ inch slices.
Step 4B: If you rolled out the dough, use cookie cutters and cut out 24 cookies. Place the cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet. You can reroll the dough scraps once.
Step 5: Optionally sprinkle the tops with sugar.
Step 6: Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, remove, and cool completely. Optionally dust cooled cookies with powdered sugar.
Tips for the Best Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Adjust the spice/heat level: I have made these with half the cayenne and it will just taste like a chocolate shortbread cookie. If you use less than the 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, you really can’t taste it. At that point, while still tasty, the hint of spice that the cayenne lends is just so intriguing and enticing.
And these shortbread chocolate cookies also have black pepper in them. You won’t taste the black pepper; rather it just enhances the chocolate flavor and adds some pizazz!
Don’t Overmix Dough: If using the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment is easier for you, go for it. However, it’s much easier to overmix in a stand mixer than when using a hand mixer so just be mindful. Overworked dough = tougher cookies.
Cookie shapes: You can roll these into a log, refrigerate, then slice, and bake. OR you can roll them out and use cookie cutters to shape them. If you’re making cutout cookies, you can use any shaped cutter you like. Round is probably the most common but I used a star shape.
Baking time: Do not overbake. They will harden up as they cool. If you overbake them, they will get too hard. I bake my cutout shortbread cookies for 10 minutes, using the approximate 2 1/2-inch star shape cutter. Baking times will vary a bit, so keep an eye on things, but if in doubt, underbake rather than overbake. Cookies always harden up and get crunchier as the days pass.
Easy cleanup: If using powdered sugar to dust the cookies, place a piece of parchment paper underneath a wire rack. The paper will catch the excess dust.
Store leftover cookies in an airtight container at room temp for up to 5 days.
You can freeze baked cookies for up to 3 months.
You can also freeze unbaked dough for up to 3 months. I suggest rolling it into a log and freezing a well-wrapped cookie dough log for logical space constraints and freezer space considerations. Allow the dough to come to cool room temp, roll out, and bake normally.
These easy shortbread cookies are on the lightly crispier and crunchier side, which makes them perfect to dunk in your coffee, tea, or hot cocoa.
If you’re making these during cooler weather months and or you like to serve ice cream with your sweets, the cookies are great with ice cream.
Doubling this recipe is a breeze. Simply double the quantity of each ingredient, ensuring you maintain the perfect balance of flavors. Mixing in a larger bowl or using a stand mixer fitted with double the capacity will make the process smooth and efficient.
The joy of these cookies extends beyond the first bite – they can be prepared ahead of time, saving you the hassle during the holiday rush.
After shaping the dough into a log, and making sure your bundle is airtight, you can refrigerate it for up to 24-48 hours before slicing and baking.
I suggest using the log-method rather than a large flat piece of dough for cut-out cookies if you want to make the dough ahead of time for practical space saving considerations in your refrigerator. It’s a lot easier to stash a cylinder than a large flat and semi delicate piece of dough.
Good question but I think it probably refers to the addition of cayenne (or pepper) in the dough, which may make some people think of Mexican cuisine where spiciness is the norm.
You’ll want to use unsweetened natural cocoa powder. Something like good ‘ole Hershey’s Cocoa Powder works just fine.
I have not tried the recipe using Dutch processed cocoa. Really, it’s not necessary, it’s more expensive, less common, and so just stick with unsweetened cocoa powder.
Make sure you are using unsweetened natural cocoa powder intended for baking and not sweetened cocoa powder or anything that’s to be used to make hot chocolate. Nope! It already has sugar in it and it and isn’t suitable for baking and the cookies will not turn out.
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Mexican Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Coarse sugar, for sprinkling; optional but recommended
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Making the Dough – To a large bowl, add the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, pepper, and whisk to combine; set aside.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and handheld electric mixer), add the butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and beat together on medium-high speed until fluffy and creamy. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Note – There is no egg nor brown sugar in this recipe, it's not a typo.
- Add the dry ingredients in two additions to the wet, beating on low speed after each additon until just incorporated and repeat until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated; don't overmix. Tip – The dough will be stiff and thick; this is normal. If you're using a hand mixer, you may need to get in there with a wooden spoon and some elbow grease!
- Shaping the Dough – You have two choices. You can either roll the dough into a long cylinder, about 2-inches in diameter, and tightly wrap in like a tootsie roll in parchment paper. OR you can roll it out in between two pieces of parchment to 1/4-inch thickness.
- Refrigeration – Either way (log or flat piece of dough), you need to chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat liners; set aside.
- Making the Cookie Shapes – If you made a log, slice off pieces that are 1/2-inch thick, and place them on the baking sheets, evenly spaced. If you are making cutout cookies, use the cookie cutters of your choice and cut them out. I suggest cutters that are about 2 1/2-3 inches in diameter. I used small stars. You can reroll the dough scraps once and cut out the remaining cookies that you can.
- Optionally (but recommended) sprinkle the cookies with coarse sugar. You can optionally sprinkle them with sprinkles or jimmies, as desired.
- Baking – Bake the cookies for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until set. Tips – Exact baking time will depend on exactly how thick you sliced the log or how large your cutout shapes are; as well as climate and oven variances. Bake one sheet of cookies at a time, on the middle rack, rotating the baking sheet once midway through baking for the most optimal results. If you made larger cookies, they may take longer than 10 minutes to cook. Do not overbake. Cookies will continue to firm and set up as they cool.
- Dusting – If desired, you can lightly dust the cookies with confectioners' sugar after they have cooled completely.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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