Chocolate Cookies with Whiskey Cream Cheese Frosting


These were a challenge to make as too much whiskey is overpowering and kind of changes the consistency of the frosting. Also, all of that taste testing can make one really tipsy.

Instead of using all regular cocoa, I mixed in some black cacao. I think it deepens the chocolate taste. It makes the cookie less sweet and gives a good balance for the sweet cream cheese frosting. Recently, I switched to cacao powder. I just happened to see it on sale and decided to try it.

What’s the difference between cacao powder and cocoa powder?

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, the dried fermented seeds of the cacao tree. These small evergreen trees are native to South America and West Africa. Once the beans are fermented, they are dried, roasted and crushed into little pieces called nibs. The nibs are ground into a non-alcoholic liquor (a thick paste-like mass made of pure cocoa solids and cocoa butter) that is combined with milk, cocoa butter, sugar and other ingredients to make chocolate.

The difference between the two is that cocoa has been processed at high heat, which alters the nutritional benefits of the cacao seed. Cocoa has been both fermented and roasted which makes it less bitter and a slightly darker powder with less nutritional value.

Cacao powder has a stronger flavor so you can use less of it in a recipe. I use them equally. I like the stronger flavor. It is minimally processed and is often packaged as vegan. It costs a little more, too. Cacao is a good source of iron, fiber and magnesium.

Cocoa powder does not absorb as much liquid. Being that is is also more acidic, it does not react with baking soda the same way cacao powder does.

What is black cocoa powder?

Black cacao has been heavily dutched, or alkalized. It is smoother with a non-bitter taste but is more like a natural or dutched cocoa powder instead of chocolatey. It looks extremely dark and makes whatever it’s used in dark as well.

Black cacao can not be switched with natural cocoa powder evenly in a recipe. You can swap natural cocoa for black cacao but doing it the other way can cause flat cakes and sunken cupcakes. It just won’t react with baking soda to allow cakes to rise.

Also, black cacao is almost fat-free. In baking, it’s best to combine it with natural or regular dutch powder so the baked goods stay moist.

I do enjoy a little Jamesons so it’s my go-to for whiskey recipes. This recipe can be made without both the whiskey and black cacao powder.

Being that the whiskey is in the cream cheese frosting and not cooked to burn off the alcohol, this recipe is not for children.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies with Whiskey Cream Cheese Frosting

Decadent chocolate sugar cookies with sweet cream cheese frosting and a touch of whiskey.
Servings 24 cookies
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Rolling & Cutting 10 mins
Total Time 35 mins


  • KitchenAid® Professional 600 Series Mixer
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Medium bowl
  • Whisk
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie cutters
  • Cooling rack
  • Rubber spatula



  • ¾ cup unsalted butter slightly softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • teaspoons bourbon-vanilla extract
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup natural cocoa or cacao powder unsweetened
  • ¼ cup black cacao powder unsweetened
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  • 8 ounces full-fat cream cheese softened
  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon bourbon-vanilla extract
  • teaspoons whiskey



  • Using a stand up or hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • Add sugar and continue beating for another 2 minutes.
  • Add egg and vanilla. Beat until fully incorporated.
  • In a medium size bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cacao (or cocoa), black cacao and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients, 1 cup at a time, to the wet mixture and combine until the dough comes together. Split dough in half, form into balls and slightly flatten. Refrigerate for 1 hour or dough can be chilled overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Transfer to baking sheets.
  • Bake for 8 – 10 minutes. For a softer cookie, bake for 8 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely before decorating.


  • Using a stand up or hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth.
  • Add vanilla and whiskey. Mix until just combined.
  • Add 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time. Beat until smooth and creamy.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar at a time to thicken frosting, if needed.


You may replace the black cacao powder with natural cocoa powder.
Bourbon-vanilla is a variety of vanilla from pods grown in Madagascar. It gets its name from the place it was cultivated, a small island near Madagascar called Reunion Island, formerly known as Bourbon Island. It has the highest average concentration of vanillin. It’s just my vanilla of choice.
This recipe may be made without black cacao or whiskey. If skipping the whiskey, use 2 teaspoons of vanilla in the frosting instead.
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Course: Dessert
Keyword: Chocolate, Cookie, Cream Cheese, Frosting, Whiskey

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment on Facebook or Instagram and tag with @morganskitchn and #morganskitchn.

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