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Heart-Shaped Pepper Cookies for Valentine's Day or Anytime

I grew up watching and helping my mother make homemade cookies. They were always in our school lunch boxes. Here, I share some family faves.

Heart-shaped pepper cookies, perfect for Valentine's Day

Heart-shaped pepper cookies, perfect for Valentine's Day

Pepper Cookies as Holiday Gifts

Are you struggling to figure out what to give your sweetheart as a Valentine's Day gift? Of course, you could give your loved one sparkling diamonds or heart-shaped chocolates and dozens of long-stemmed roses. But if your budget is not large and you would like to show him or her that you put some personal time and effort into making a gift rather than just selecting it, why not create some homemade heart-shaped cookies this year?

These cookies are not just for Valentine's Day—the dough can easily be cut into other shapes that are appropriate for any holiday. For instance, you could make them star-shaped for Christmas, shamrock-shaped for St. Patrick's Day, or egg-shaped for Easter. Since I discovered this recipe among my mother's recipe cards, it has become part of my regular holiday cookie mix. I make these for Christmas and other holidays as well. Everybody seems to like them.

Swans in a love pose

Swans in a love pose


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup (light corn syrup works just as well, but the color of the cookie becomes darker with dark corn syrup)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar (I use plain old apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

What we particularly like about this recipe is that the cookies are delectable and spicy but not overly sweet. They can be made well ahead of time and are thin and crisp. They also freeze well. The black pepper seems to accentuate the other spices.


  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the sugar, corn syrup, and vinegar. Bring just to a boil and remove the mixture from the heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in the egg.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients and stir into the wet mixture until it is well combined.
  3. At this point, cover it and chill it for several hours in the refrigerator or even overnight.
  4. Divide this chilled dough into at least 4 portions and keep the parts chilled until ready to roll out.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough making it very thin (1/8 of an inch or even less).
  6. Cut into whatever shape you wish with cookie cutters and put them onto a greased cookie sheet. I use Pam spray on the cookie sheets, and it seems to work well.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 or 5 minutes. Watch carefully and remove once the cookies are barely brown around the edges.
  8. Transfer the cookies to a rack until cooled, then store in covered containers.

Read More From Delishably

This recipe makes about 120 two-inch cookies. Enjoy!

Heart-shaped pepper cookies

Heart-shaped pepper cookies

Cute Video of a Child Assisting His Mother in Cutting Out Cookies.

Cookies as Gifts

Tins of all types of holiday cookies are sold each year, and baking cookies during particular seasons of the year is traditional for many people. My mother always had homemade cookies available in the cookie jar when I was growing up, and most often they made it into our school lunch boxes as a sweet treat along with our sandwich, piece of fruit, and thermos of milk.

For many years now and with my mother's help (when she was alive), I have baked many different batches of cookies to be given away as gifts during the Christmas season. My mother and I also baked homemade cookies for various occasions for the people at the Ronald McDonald House in Houston. For those of you who may not know, families of ill children undergoing treatment for grave diseases (most often but not exclusively cancer) get to stay in this homey atmosphere for extended periods.

The heart-shaped cookie cutters that I possess were purchased to create a platter of cookies for an art gallery during Valentine's Day one year that featured my art as well as other artists' work. Ever since that Valentine's Day and since discovering this recipe, I have used these particular cookie cutters for other gift-giving occasions as well. They look pretty mixed in with an assortment of other homemade cookies.

Heart-shaped cookies can be a sweet gift idea for any time of year for the sweetheart that makes your heart go pitter-patter as well as other friends and acquaintances.

© 2010 Peggy Woods

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