Habañero is one chile that I absolutely adore (after Hatch and Serrano, of course)! It delivers quite a punch for this little orange pepper, and is great in both savory and sweet applications alike! When I was growing up, one of my favorite candies were Hot Tamales. They were the inspiration for this dish, trying to re-create that spicy sweetness in the buttercream for my Grandma’s famous sugar cookies!
I love this sugar cookie recipe – it’s more like a short-bread in that they’re not too chewy, but delicately crumbly. It’s what I grew up with, so this is my baseline for what I consider a “traditional” sugar cookie. When I was younger, we decorated all of our Christmas sugar cookies by brushing them with an egg wash, and sprinkling them with colored sugar right before baking. For Halloween, we’d put white frosting on the ghost cookies, and I always preferred that:
That’s why, when I moved out on my own, and started making my own sugar cookies for my friends, I would always top them with buttercream. Normally, I don’t flavor the buttercream, and concentrate on making them in my own unique way – that was until Melissa’s Produce challenged bloggers to make a cookie that contained one of their specialty food items! Since I love spice, it was all about using their Dried Habañeros. They also have dried Scorpion and Ghost chiles too! I can’t wait to get my hands on those.
My, how some things never change! This is what my happy place looks like. I could do this all day, errrrrrr day.
If you’re not familiar with cooking with spice, please, PLEASE be careful while handling the habañeros. If you put them in your spice grinder, tiny molecules will become air-borne, so take heed! It will be as if someone sprayed you with pepper spray if you decide to take a sniff after whirring them around in your grinder. I speak from experience! Additionally, add the dried habañero powder to your buttercream one pinch at a time, unless you are extremely familiar with the product. The recipe below will be a very peppermint-y up front, and the habañero will become more apparent after a couple seconds at the back of your throat. It’s like a surprise cookie! Just make sure the recipient knows that they’ll be eating something spicy!
- For the Cookies
- 1 Cup Soft Butter
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 1 Egg
- 2 Teaspoons Vanilla
- 1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
- 3 Cups Flour, Sifted first before measuring
- 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- For The Buttercream (adapted from Betty Crocker Cookbook)
- 3 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 1/3 Cup Butter, softened
- 1/2 Teaspoon Peppermint Extract
- 2 Tablespoons Milk
- Red Food Coloring to your desired redness
- 1/4 Scant Teaspoon Dried Habañero Powder.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg, vanilla and and almond extract one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Sift flour and baking powder, and incorporate into wet mixture. Chill dough for at least 20 minutes.
- Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick, then use cookie cutters to cut various festive shapes.
- Place them on a parchment paper or silpat lined baking sheet, and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until set, and ever-so-slightly browned. Cool on a wire rack while you make the buttercream.
- Since habañeros are so hot, I recommend adding a little bit at a time, and tailoring the buttercream to your tastes. First, take two Melissa’s Produce dried habañeros (with seeds), and grind them to a fine powder in a spice grinder.
- Mix powdered sugar and butter together, then add the peppermint extract, milk, red food coloring, and a small amount of habañero powder. Beat until smooth, and you achieve a good spreading consistency. Taste, and adjust the spice if needed.
- Load the buttercream into a piping bag with a small circular tip, and pipe beautiful designs on the cookies. I use a combination of green and red sugar, and a bit of edible gold glitter to top the cookies for some extra holiday sparkle!
More holiday cookie recipes.
*Disclaimer: Melissa’s Produce provided me with the dried habañeros, but I was not compensated in any other way for this post. All opinions contained within are solely mine.