10 Sweet and Spicy Desserts That Get Their Kick from Cayenne

Cinco de Chili Chocolate Cupcakes with Chili Cream Cheese Frosting
Photo: CookinBug

Who knew that cayenne pepper could be a secret ingredient in desserts, of all things? I mean, you expect to find cayenne pepper in savory recipes like chili and BBQ spice rubs. But cayenne in cupcakes? And it doesn't take a lot, either. Just a touch of cayenne pepper is enough to add a subtle warmth and smoky sweetness to all kinds of goodies — from cookies and cupcakes to pies and fruit crumbles. Add a little more if you want to go from mild to wild. Scroll through to find 10 popular desserts where a pinch of cayenne pepper brings the heat to the treat.

01 of 11

Chef John's Peach Pie

A pinch of cayenne pepper teams up with ground cinnamon to bring a subtle sweet and spicy note to this 5-star peach pie recipe. Be sure to watch the recipe video to see how Chef John boils down the juices from the fresh peaches to avoid soggy pie syndrome, and as a bonus, he's shows you how easy it is to weave a lattice top for this luscious pie. "Loved the little kick of cayenne. Pie was not runny, just perfect. I made one to eat right away. I made the filling for two more pies, placing each in a foil lined pie pan. When the filling was frozen, I pulled them out of the pans and placed them in gallon-size zip-top bags and froze them for future pies," says home cook Miechele James Summers.

02 of 11

Spicy Ginger Cookies

"Followed this recipe to the letter and wouldn't change a thing," says Allrecipes Allstar lutzflcat. "Don't be afraid of that little bit of cayenne, it really won't smack you in the face. It gives you a hint of spiciness without overwhelming, and it's an important ingredient to what makes this cookie special. I rolled the cookie dough balls in turbinado sugar, and the cookies' texture was just about perfect."

03 of 11

The Ultimate Berry Crumble

A slice of The Ultimate Berry Crumble recipe on a white plate with a scoop of ice cream
Chef John

Home cook Ekbrook joined 80+ reviewers who gave this top-rated recipe a solid 5-star rating and said, "The whole family enjoyed this! As usual, Chef John showed us in the video how to add some professional tweaks that make a big difference to the final product. Additionally, I never would have imagined that apple cider vinegar and cayenne pepper would have played a role in such a sweet berry dish. But it was overall superb! Will definitely make this one often in berry season."

04 of 11

Mexican Chocolate/Salted Caramel Cake in a Mug

Here's a perky little pick-me-up when you're in the mood for a single-serving microwave dessert. Salted caramels make a rich and gooey sauce on top. Allrecipes home cook rblueeyes raves, "Made this exactly as written. Best cake in a mug I have had! The cayenne is very subtle, but adds a hint of spice. Delicious!"

05 of 11

Chef John's Chili Chocolate Cookies

chocolate cookies on a cooling rack
Chef John

"Just like adding a pinch of salt to dessert recipes makes them even sweeter and more delicious, the addition of pepper in this cookie really makes the chocolate even more chocolaty," says Chef John. "The cookies aren't really spicy, but you can definitely tell something strange and wonderful is happening."

06 of 11

Mexican Mocha Chia Seed Pudding (Keto)

Coffee, almond milk, cocoa power, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and sweetener get whisked up with chia seeds to make a deeply chocolaty pudding with a sweet and spicy edge. The chia seeds plump up as they soak in the mixture and give this easy dessert its pudding-like thickness. "Wow! I really liked this. It has a kick to it but that's part of what makes it sooo good. Thanks for the recipe! I will be making this again and again," says Allrecipes Allstar Yoly.

07 of 11

Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Close up view of homemade Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies rolled in sugar and cinnamon
Pam Potter

There's cayenne pepper mixed into the cookie dough, and recipe creator Brandi Rose says that if you'd like more spice, add a generous pinch of cayenne to the sugar-cinnamon mixture that coats the cookies before baking. Reviewer Pam Potter adds, " I made them exactly as written and everyone from my 5-year-old up to my husband loved them! I was concerned about the addition of spicy cayenne for my non-spice-liking kids but we all found it has just enough spice to add depth to the otherwise very rich chocolate cookie."

08 of 11

Chef John's Chocolate Decadence

Chef John's Chocolate Decadence

How decadent is this cake? Chef John himself says, "By modern standards, this cake is ridiculously rich. In fact, some of you may find it too intense, but most true chocolate fiends will be in heaven. Serve with ice-cold fresh raspberry sauce."

09 of 11

Hot Cinnamon Peanut Brittle

David, who created and shared this microwave candy recipe describes it as "a fun twist on the standard brittle and tastes like a mix between hot cinnamon candies and peanut brittle." Reviewer tdb4ut adds, "Love this stuff! First made for 4th of July fireworks party, everyone loved it and asked for the recipe. It has a great flavor and the cayenne creeps up on ya!"

10 of 11

Cinco de Chili Chocolate Cupcakes with Chili Cream Cheese Frosting

No need to wait for Cinco de Mayo to enjoy these kicked-up cupcakes. Recipe creator Candice describes them as "Dark chocolate cupcakes with a bite! Topped with Chili Cream Cheese Frosting. They were a huge hit at our annual Chili Cook-off. Many wanted THEM to be allowed as an entry. Add more chili and cayenne powder to taste. (IF YOU CAN TAKE IT!)"

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