Smoldering Heart Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

spicy chocolate heart cookies

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!

3.72 from 7 votes

Smoldering Heart Chocolate Cookies

Author Sue Moran


  • 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


  • set oven to 350F
  • Cream the butter with the sugar and cocoa powder until smooth.
  • Beat in the cayenne pepper.
  • Mix in the flour until completely combined. Form the dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for an hour.
  • Roll out the dough to about 1/4 to 1/3 inch and cut into heart shapes.
  • 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.
  • Cool the cookies before frosting them.
  • 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.
  • Spread a layer of chocolate over the surface of each cookie, and sprinkle with smoked paprika while the chocolate is still warm.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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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    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Donna Hi
    October 27, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    I have never been a great fan of hot, but it does sound interesting. I think I might do this with a harlequin effect of dipping half the heart into white chocolate. Christmas is going to be interesting this year.

    • Reply
      October 27, 2019 at 5:29 pm

      LOVE that Donna 🙂 Do you deliver?

  • Reply
    [email protected]+Floating+Kitchen
    February 6, 2015 at 5:37 am

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

    • Reply
      February 6, 2015 at 6:55 am

      Thanks Liz, they’re pretty powerful 🙂

  • Reply
    January 30, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Is the dark chocolate bittersweet or unsweetwned?

    • Reply
      January 30, 2015 at 7:45 pm

      Sweetened, Caroline, I’ll update to make it clearer, thanks!

  • Reply
    January 28, 2015 at 6:40 pm

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

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    January 28, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Looks so decadent! Perfect for V-day 🙂

  • Reply
    January 27, 2015 at 7:54 am

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

    • Reply
      January 27, 2015 at 11:56 am

      Thanks Grace <3

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    January 25, 2015 at 9:50 pm

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

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s+Recipes
    January 25, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    These dark beauties look sensational!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2015 at 6:21 pm

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

    • Reply
      January 24, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      Thanks Carol — I spent some time on that title 🙂

  • Reply
    Chris @ The Café Sucré Farine
    January 24, 2015 at 4:58 pm

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

  • Reply
    Elaine Cobb
    January 24, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      January 24, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    Sarah | Broma Bakery
    January 24, 2015 at 10:55 am

    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!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2015 at 10:48 am

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

  • Reply
    January 24, 2015 at 8:13 am

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

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    January 24, 2015 at 6:09 am

    Beautiful and a perfect way to celebrate the day! (Love the hit of spice, too 🙂

    • Reply
      January 24, 2015 at 8:11 am

      Thanks Jennifer — The smokey paprika was a real discovery, it’s wonderful with the chocolate!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2015 at 6:06 am

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

    • Reply
      January 24, 2015 at 8:12 am

      So black, huh? Thanks for stopping by Monique.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2015 at 4:26 am

    Yum! Valentines day looks delish today. Thanks!

    • Reply
      January 24, 2015 at 8:12 am

      My hubs and I got to celebrate early while ‘testing’ these 🙂

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