This variation on the classic ‘icebox’ cookie – where the dough is refrigerated before baking – was popularised by American pastry chef and cookbook author Maida Heatter, dubbed ‘Queen of Desserts’. They’re an addictive combination of sweet, salty and spicy all in the one mouthful.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (47 votes)


  • 375 g (2½ cups) plain flour
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 50 g (½ cup) cocoa powder, plus extra, to dust
  • 1½ tsp cayenne pepper, plus extra, to dust
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 280 g unsalted butter
  • 250 g (1 cup firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Chilling time 2 hours

Preheat oven to 180°C. Sift flour, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa and spices together in a bowl with a ½ teaspoon of pepper and a pinch of salt.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together for 6 minutes or until thick and pale. Add vanilla and egg and beat until well combined. Add dry ingredients and mix to form a stiff dough.

Divide dough in half. Place each portion on a large piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log. Twist ends to seal, then using your hands, roll logs on a work surface until round. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Using a large, sharp knife, cut each log into 15 x 1 cm rounds. Place on lined oven trays and bake for 15 minutes or until just cooked. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with extra cocoa and cayenne pepper, to serve.



Photography Chris Chen. Food preparation Leanne Kitchen. Styling Kristen Wilson.


As seen in Feast magazine, October 2014, Issue 36.