These Cacao Chili Crinkle Cookies are the perfect blend of sweet, spicy and chocolate. Sure to fill any craving, these cookies are simple to make and bake up with a beautiful crackled sugar exterior!
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How to Make the Best Crinkle Cookies with Chili Powder
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Chili powder in cookies? How weird! At first glance, it may seem like a counterintuitive combination, that the spicy savoriness would take away from the sweet chocolatey goodness of the cookies.
As a matter of fact, the cacao chili powder actually enhances the sweetness of the cookies. Think of these cookies as Mexican Hot Chocolate in cookie form.
Some of the tastiest dishes out there include a balance of sweet and savory. Mole is one great example! A savory sauce that incorporates a multitude of ingredients. And in the case of one specific type of mole, even chocolate.
In fact, the combination of chili and cacao have a long rich history. Ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations commonly used both chili and cacao to make delicious beverages and other dishes like mole.
These Cacao Chili Crinkle cookies have all the elements of a holiday favorite – sweet and chocolatey with a beautiful crinkle exterior. However, the addition of the cacao chili powder makes them distinct, and extra delicious!
What is Cacao Chili Powder?
The Cacao Chili powder used in this recipe came from Mountain Rose Herbs, and is comprised of the finest, fair-trade harvested local spices. With a great ratio of chocolate to chili, this powder is versatile even beyond these delicious cookies. Use it to spice meats or take a batch of chili to the next level!
So what’s in Cacao Chili Powder? Here are some of the star ingredients:
- Organic Smoked Paprika Powder
- Organic and fair trade roasted Cacao powder
- Organic Ancho Pepper powder
The paprika lends the cacao chili powder a sweet smokiness, with just a hint of spice. The roasted Cacao powder, of course, gives it a chocolatey boost. Since the Cacao Chili powder is unsweetened, the cacao has more of a strong bitter note to it than you may be used to with commercialized cocoa products. Which makes it great for many versatile applications in both sweet baked goods and savory cooking.
Ancho pepper powder gives the Cacao Chili powder just a subtle kick. It’s not as spicy as you may get with say a habanero, but its enough to make an impact in this cookie.
Mountain Rose Herbs sells only the finest spices. Investing in high quality spices is worth it if you enjoy cooking and baking. The higher quality means stronger flavors, which in turn means you actually can use less of a spice to get the same impact.
What’s the difference between Cocoa and Cacao?
Primarily, cocoa and cacao powder differ in their processing methods. The difference in the processing methods impacts their flavor profiles. Cacao beans undergo fermentation at low temperatures, enhancing flavor and texture. After drying, they’re processed into cacao powder. In contrast, cocoa beans are roasted after fermentation, reducing bitterness and imparting a toasty flavor to create cocoa powder, known for its sweeter taste.
Cacao powder offers a deeper, more bitter chocolate flavor, ideal for dark chocolates and rich desserts. Cocoa powder, with its milder, sweeter taste, typically used in recipes like cookies and hot cocoa. Your choice depends on your flavor preference and the desired outcome of your dishes. Cocoa for sweetness, cacao for boldness.
To make Cacao Chili Crinkle Cookies, you can use either cocoa powder OR cacao powder. The choice is entirely yours depending on your preference. And more importantly, what you already have in the pantry!
I prefer to use cacao powder as much as possible. I’m a big fan of the stronger, more bitter cacao flavor as opposed to the lighter cocoa flavor. Particularly since I am sensitive to heavily processed foods, it’s easier to find high quality cacao powder, than cocoa powder. I even use cacao powder to make my own chocolate syrup at home!
How to Make Cacao Chili Crinkle Cookies
Making these Cacao Chili Crinkle cookies follows a familiar cookie method.
First, start by creaming together butter and the sugars using either a stand mixer or hand mixer. I always prefer to use my KitchenAid for this, as I find it’s less messy and more hands off. The more fluffy in texture you can get your butter and sugar the better the cookies will be. However, if you are short on time, then 5 minutes will do just fine!
Next, slowly add in the egg and vanilla. Be sure to incorporate well, and slowly stream in the eggs to make sure they are mixed. This helps maintain the fluffy integrity of the butter-sugar mix.
After that, measure and blend all your dry ingredients in a bowl. Use a whisk to combine and break up any larger chunks that may be in there. This ensures a smooth texture to the cookies. No one likes biting into a chunk of baking soda!
Once everything is combined, add in the chocolate chips. Chocolate chips give these cookies and extra sweet chocolate boost! Now that the dough is made, it’s time to let it set.
Setting the dough in the fridge is important, as it helps bring everything together and firm up. Scooping these cookies without letting the dough rest will be a sticky mess!
Once the dough has rested in the fridge, roll them first in granulated sugar, then powdered sugar. This helps get the best crinkled exterior. Let the cookies cool again, then bake.
And that’s it! You’ve just made a delicious batch of Cacao Chili Crinkle cookies.
- Stand or Hand Mixer
- ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
- 1 egg scrambled in a separate bowl
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened all natural cocoa powder (or cacao powder)
- 2 tablespoons cacao chili powder see notes for substitution
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- pinch salt
- ½ cup mini or regular-size semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
Make the cookie dough
- In a small bowl, scramble the egg. Set aside until ready to use. In a stand mixer, or large bowl using a hand mixer, combine butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar.
- Cream butter and sugars until lighter in color and fluffier in texture, about 5-10 minutes on medium high speed. Scrape down the sides and add about half the egg, and all of the vanilla extract. Mix on medium high speed until well combined, scrape down the sides as needed.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, chile powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stop and scrape down the sides as needed.
- Once fully combined, add in the chocolate chips on low speed until just combined.
- Cover dough and chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or until ready to use.
Roll in sugar and bake cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350℉.
- Scoop cookies out and roll into balls about 1 tablespoon. In one shallow dish, add the granulated sugar. In another, add the powdered sugar.
- Roll the cookies in the granulated sugar, and then powdered sugar. Place the cookies on a baking tray lined with parchment. Note: The cookies will bake best if cooled again before baking. If the cookies have become soft and sticky in the rolling process, place cookies in freezer for 20-30 minutes before baking.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes to set. Enjoy!