There is never not an excuse to pat yourself on the back with chocolate, and guys…we just made it through a WHOLE WORK WEEK!
FIVE WHOLE DAYS!!!
And we didn’t even fall asleep at our computers !!! Not even once!!! (Even though we sometimes really really really wanted to).
Can I offer you a brownie in congratulations? Because, EARNED IT.
And these are not even your average brownies. These are the richest darkest decadent-est brownies with a deep dark black pepper spice secret, topped with a salty caramel ooey gooey layer of sheer goodness.
Deep breaths. They overwhelm me too.
The black pepper is a surprising addition, but just as it enhances flavors in savory cooking, it does the same in sweets, somehow making the chocolate taste more like CHOCOLATE. On steroids.
It brings a bit of heat as well, but the kind that makes your tongue burn with longing and lust rather than discomfort.
Let the love affair begin.
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- ¾ cup all purpose flour
- ¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 2½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tbsp water
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp fleur de sel, for sprinkling
- To make the brownies, heat oven to 325. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan, line with parchment paper, and then grease the paper. Set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, pepper, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, vanilla, salt, and eggs. Add the melted butter to the sugar mixture and whisk until smooth. Fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake until just set, 24-26 minutes. Set on a rack to cool.
- Meanwhile, make the caramel. Add the water to a medium saucepan. Add the sugar to the pan, making sure it is moistened with the water. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until the caramel is a medium amber color, about 5-6 minutes. Slowly stir in the cream, whisking constantly. Add the butter and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes more. Whisk in the vanilla. Pour the caramel over the brownies and spread evenly.
- Let cool, in the pan, for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.