Smoldering Heart Chocolate Shortbread Cookies ~ these deep dark chocolate shortbread cookies have a spicy secret ingredient: cayenne pepper!  Just a touch adds some real heat to these smoldering hearts…

Extra dark chocolate cookies with a spicy secret

If you want bake up a treat that truly expresses your romantic intentions this Valentine’s Day, forget about all the pink stuff and make your Valentine a batch of these deep dark Smoldering Hearts…with a hint of cayenne and a dash of hot smokey paprika they leave an intriguing little after burn on your tongue and definitely send the I’ve got the hots for you message.

dark chocolate heart cookies

Cayenne chili powder is baked right into this cookie’s intensely chocolatey shortbread dough —  It’s not overpowering, there’s just a touch, but it gives a pleasant background note of heat.  As always, there’s nothing stopping you from increasing the amount for a more fiery effect.

chocolate heart cut out cookies

I topped the baked cookies with a thick layer of pure melted dark chocolate and a sprinkle of hot smoked paprika.  I wasn’t sure about the smoked paprika, but one taste told me I had a winner.  The effect is surprising and delicious.  Chocolate and spice is a natural combination that’s been enjoyed for centuries in Mexico and South America, we’re just a little slow to catch on up north.  Instead of simply adding more cayenne on top of the cookie, the paprika adds that smoldering quality.

deep chocoate cut out heart cookies

The cookies are so dark because I used an ‘extra dark’ or ‘Dutch’ processed cocoa powder.   I like the rich color it gives the dough, and I think it tastes even more chocolatey.  Look for it with the other cocoa powders in your store, I usually buy Hershey’s Special Dark, but King Arthur Flour makes a Black Cocoa powder that I’m dying to try, too.

spicy chocolate heart cookies

If you don’t happen to have a heart shaped cookie cutter, don’t worry, use a round one, the message will still get through loud and clear!

If you love deep dark chocolate, try my Double Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies ~ they’ve got the same decadent chocolate flavor, without the heat!

Smoldering Heart Chocolate Cookies

Yield: makes about 16 cookies

Smoldering Heart Chocolate Cookies


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder (I like Hershey's Extra Dark)
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper (use less or more to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups dark chocolate, in bar form, or dark chocolate chips (that's sweetened chocolate, not unsweetened)
  • hot smoked paprika


  1. set oven to 350F
  2. Cream the butter with the sugar and cocoa powder until smooth.
  3. Beat in the cayenne pepper.
  4. Mix in the flour until completely combined. Form the dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for an hour.
  5. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 to 1/3 inch and cut into heart shapes.
  6. Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes. The cookies may be soft when you pull them out of the oven but will firm up as they cool.
  7. Cool the cookies before frosting them.
  8. Melt the chocolate in a glass microwave safe bowl. If you are using bar chocolate, chop it in small pieces first. Start with one minute, then stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds and stir again, until all the chocolate is melted and smooth. If you need to, microwave in very short bursts until all the chocolate is melted.
  9. Spread a layer of chocolate over the surface of each cookie, and sprinkle with smoked paprika while the chocolate is still warm.

spicy chocolate heart cookies

If you’re going to go a courtin’, arm yourself with the real deal… dark, almost black chocolate cookies that melt in your mouth, and a surprise shot of hot chili pepper…trust me, your Valentine won’t stand a chance :)


more dark chocolate…

Deepest Chocolate Espresso Cookies


Double Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Double Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies | The View from Great Island 2

Meyer Lemon Filled Chocolates

homemade candy, Meyer Lemon, Dessert, chocolate

Dark Chocolate Blender Pot de Creme

Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme

Belgian Flourless Chocolate Cake

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27 Responses to Smoldering Heart Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

  1. […] Get the full recipe at The View From Great Island […]

  2. […] Get the full recipe at The View From Great Island […]

  3. I absolutely love these and I love the name too! YUM!

  4. Caroline says:

    Is the dark chocolate bittersweet or unsweetwned?

  5. Susan says:

    This is my idea of comfort food :) Wow, they look delicious, Sue. Hubba-hubba! I think we having the same baking sheet – lol.

  6. Looks so decadent! Perfect for V-day :)

  7. grace says:

    i’m a sucker for anything heart-shaped, and i LOVE this combination of flavors. you’ve done a good thing here, sue!

  8. I love those smoky spices with chocolate, just perfect for Valentine’s Day!

  9. These dark beauties look sensational!

  10. You are SO right!!!!! I love the title!!!! I love the heavy heavy chocolate!!!!! I love the
    nip of cayenne!!!! Inspired!!!!!

  11. Wow, this must be a party for the taste buds! These look so fun and so… delicious!

  12. Elaine Cobb says:

    These look great Sue. I have collected so many great recipes from you. Thank you!

    I have tried the Black Cocoa Powder from King Arthur. Let me state first that I am a chocoholic. That said, I was amazed that it was too dark and chocolatey for me and the group of ladies I shared them with. I prefer their Dutch Chocolate Powder or a mix Blend of the two I purchased from them. Maybe you will love it.

    • Sue says:

      I’m so glad to get the review of the cocoa powder, I can imagine it’s not to everybody’s taste, but I have a feeling I would like it…I can ALMOST enjoy unsweetened chocolate, the darker and more bitter the better for me (I know, I’m weird) Thanks for letting us know Elaine!

  13. I’m chocolate loving this right now. If that even makes sense. They’re too cute, Sue! I’ve got the hots for… these cookies!

  14. judith says:

    Yummmm! The deeper the chocolate the better! Loving the extra heat with these!

  15. Liz says:

    These look fantastic! My chocoholic family would love your cookies!

  16. Beautiful and a perfect way to celebrate the day! (Love the hit of spice, too :)

  17. Monique says:

    My internet connection stopped as I was telling you I love the hearts on the baking tray..Pretty pretty pretty.

  18. Katy says:

    Yum! Valentines day looks delish today. Thanks!

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