Mexican hot chocolate cookies are a must-have Christmas cookie tray staple. These sweet and spicy cookies will clear your sinuses and satisfy your sweet tooth. Surprise your guests with these tasty cookies on your dessert buffet.
Tonight I'm heading to the second annual cookie exchange the ladies from my playgroup host. We had so much fun last year, people scrambled to rsvp to this year's event. I've been looking at cookie recipes for ages trying to decide what to bring and just couldn't make up my mind.
It seems like everyone brings the same kind of cookies to a cookie exchange -- sugar cookies, lots of chocolate, and usually something with pretzels. I wanted to find something a little more unique but still easy enough to bake for busy moms.
What are Mexican hot chocolate cookies?
Mexican hot chocolate cookies look a lot like traditional crackle cookies. The chocolate dough balls are rolled in a mix of sugar, cinnamon, and spicy cayenne pepper before baking.
As they spread and bake, the sugar crust leaves large crackles in the surface. The sweet dough goes so well with the spicy seasonings.
Since crinkle cookies are such an easy drop cookie to bake, I knew these would be simply perfect for the Christmas cookie exchange.
The ingredient list is pretty easy peasy. Most of the items you likely already have on hand in your pantry but these are the more unique things you'll definitely want to double check you have:
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: We love using Hershey's Cocoa 100% Cocoa powder because I've always been able to find it at our regular grocery store.
- Cream of Tartar: This is not always part of a regular pantry, so double check you have some!
- Cayenne Pepper: Even if your family doesn't like spicy food, this is an essential ingredient for these cookies. It is the defining flavor for the Mexican Hot Chocolate. You could always reduce the amount, but even my non-spicy food family adores these cookies.
Make the Chocolate Cookie Dough
The cookie dough is really quite basic and easy to make in a stand mixer.
If you don't have a mixer, just know the dough is really thick and will give your arm a workout to combine with a spoon but you can still do it.
Once the dough is prepared, finishing the cookies is easy:
Roll the Cookie Balls
First, combine the cinnamon, sugar, and cayenne in a small bowl.
Then, use spoons to gather portions of dough. Roll them into 1.5-inch balls.
Roll the cookie dough balls in the cinnamon-cayenne mixture until completely coated.
Line them up on a cookie sheet for baking. Be sure to leave 3 inches of space between cookies.
The photo below has them too close together, we had a few bake into one another. I recommend only putting 10 cookies on each sheet.
Bake the cookies at 400°F for 10 minutes, rotating the pans in the oven halfway through.
Actually, that's our favorite way to enjoy them! These cookies freeze incredibly well and are perfect for baking in advance of the holidays.
First, be sure to let the cookies cool completely. If they are warm at all, they will steam inside the freezer bag and cause problems.
Once they are completely cool, store them in an airtight container or freezer ziptop bag. Be sure to squeeze as much air out as possible.
When you want to thaw the cookies, leave them on your kitchen counter overnight with the bag or container opened to let any moisture escape as they thaw.
These Mexican hot chocolate cookies actually make a perfect simple Cinco de Mayo dessert or even a Taco Tuesday treat since you can bake them ahead and even freeze them if you need. They are a deliciously sweet and spicy way to end the meal.
They are also one of our favorite Christmas cookies, the spicy kick is such a delicious complement to the other cookie platter sweets.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar + additional 1/4 cup for sugar topping
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- Preheat oven to 400°F, with racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl.
- Add the eggs and beat them in to combine with the butter mixture. With mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture and beat until the dough is just combined.
- In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne powder. Using large tablespoons, form 1.5-inch balls of dough and roll them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Place each dough ball about 3 inches apart on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are set in the center and begin to crack, about 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the racks to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container, up to 1 week.
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