Mexican Chocolate Spice Cookies with Cherries

I often explore candy and confection recipes for flavor inspirations. One of my favorite chocolate combinations is found in Lindt’s chocolate, chili and cherry bar. These soft, chewy cookies combine cinnamon and a dash of cayenne with dark, rich chocolate and tart cherries. To make them extra dark, substitute a tablespoon of black cocoa for a tablespoon of regular Dutch-processed cocoa. From my book, “Sassy Cookies.”

Mexican Chocolate Spice Cookies with Cherries
Makes 30 to 36 cookies

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces (about 1 cup) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried sour cherries, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer with speed set to high, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract; beat until well combined. Set mixer to low. Add the flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and cherries.

Using a medium cookie scoop, (such as #40), drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto prepared cookie sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and cracked, about 12 to 14 minutes. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies, still on parchment, to wire racks to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container, at room temperature, up to 3 days.

Baker’s Note: If you prefer the cookie less spicy, reduce cayenne pepper to 1/8 teaspoon.