Salt and pepper caramel brownies – rich chocolate brownies get a hint of spice from a hefty dose of black pepper, enhancing their absolute decadence.
salt and pepper caramel brownies

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!


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.

Salt and Pepper Caramel Brownies
Salt and pepper caramel brownies - rich chocolate brownies get a hint of spice from a hefty dose of black pepper, enhancing their absolute decadence.
Yield: 16 brownies
For the brownies
  • 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
For the caramel
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake until just set, 24-26 minutes. Set on a rack to cool.
  4. 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.
  5. Let cool, in the pan, for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 brownie


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48 Responses to Salt and Pepper Caramel Brownies

  1. Katerina says:

    These bars have my name written all over them!

  2. My husband jokes that I put pepper on everything, but even I haven’t thought to use this. But I guess, chilli goes well with chocolate, so no reason why pepper wouldn’t.

  3. Krista says:

    These sound absolutely incredible, Joanne! What a clever thing to add pepper. That would be amazing. 🙂

  4. Can’t wait to try this combo – gorgeous! 😀

  5. OMG. These look soooo ridiculously decadent and perfect!

  6. Johanna GGG says:

    oh that is exactly what I need at the end of the week – looks delicious

  7. Erica says:

    Black pepper?!! I never would have thought of that, but girl you totally sell it. I am dying to try these!!! Especially with that caramel on top, wow. They look INCREDIBLE.

  8. Sues says:

    Congrats on getting through 5 days!! I took Monday off so technically only got through 4… Plus I may have fallen asleep at my computer a few times 🙂 Anyyyyway, I LOVE that there is black pepper in these! They look so delicious!

  9. […] Must try – I adore salt in desserts and pepper… intrigued […]

  10. Julia says:

    What I would give for a stack of salt and pepper caramel brownies right now…they look so amazing! Ohhhh the decadence! TGIF, indeed…I’m ready to put myself in a beer and brownie coma 😉

  11. Lynn says:

    Hmmm – as I so often say: wish I had some of those right now! Yum.

  12. Lori Rice says:

    As if I wasn’t already happy that it’s Friday. Now these brownies? I can’t stop staring at them!

  13. Heather says:

    Hmm… I’m definitely intrigued by the black pepper in these… might have to tone it down for the kiddos, but I’m game!

  14. The black pepper is definitely an intriguing ingredient!! Admittedly, I’m a little nervous about including it, but these look so amazing.

  15. Pass me a stack of salt and pepper caramel brownies! These look fantastic!

  16. I’m intrigued by the black pepper! Definitely have to give these a try!

  17. Karla says:

    Pepper in brownies? Sign me up!

  18. Zainab says:

    Chocolate on steroids? I am in!!!

  19. I love love that you added pepper and gooey caramel to the top layer. Hello new favorite brownies!

  20. These brownies look utterly delicious, esp. with that glorious layer of caramel!

  21. Pam says:

    All I can say is, OH MY. They are swoon worthy and beautiful. I am seriously wanting one (or three) right now.

  22. There is no word for how incredible these look! OMG

  23. These sound amazing Joanne. Just the thing for busy weeks! (And I guess they’d improve relaxed weeks too 🙂 ).

  24. Kate says:

    I was just thinking how I would put caramel on just about anything

  25. Pepper in brownies? Well if salt works, why not pepper?! Such a cool idea- these look fabulous 🙂 Pinning!

  26. Wow – these. look. AMAZING! What a great idea. I’m pinning to try for sure. They sound so good!

  27. These are literally the best brownies I’ve seen or even heard of, in years…

  28. These brownies look too good! Also, pepper in brownies? I would be down for it 🙂

  29. Eva R. says:

    Oh my gosh. This is EVERYTHING. Brownies are my absolute favorite dessert, and pepper is a must-have in our house! I would have never thought to combine them, but I LOVE where your head’s at!

  30. Fab fab fab… lately I’ve been contemplating throwing pepper into baked goods, thanks for doing the legwork on this one! They look perfect 🙂

  31. Susan says:

    Hello, my pretty! I am a firm believer in peppering almost everything but I would have never through to add it to brownies. Love the idea!

  32. Sarah says:

    Oh man these brownies are proof that dreams do come true… (or they would if you invited me over right about now). YUM!

  33. Kelly says:

    Whoa, these brownies are everything! So creative to add the black pepper!The gooey salted caramel topping is totally calling my name!

  34. These brownies look amazing. I have never thought of putting pepper in brownies before, but I see that it works. This would be the perfect treat after a hard week of work.

  35. Holy cow those look incredible! And I am definitely intrigued by the addition of pepper to the brownies. I may be a bit timid though and not add the whole 2-1/2 tsp

  36. I’m really too hungry to be looking at these right now. They are the richest looking brownies ever … and yet I want the whole pan.

  37. Katie says:

    oh Joanne, amazing, I could have done with a daily dose of these this week! x

  38. cheri says:

    Hi Joanne, I love caramel and chocolate, I bet these are delicious!

  39. Pepper and chocolate, salt and caramel…oh yes! I’ll be craving these until they get baked.

  40. Liora says:

    Hi Joanne, these look so fudge and indulgent… salty, sweet, and spicy!

  41. Monica says:

    These are kind of mesmerizing! I love that perfect thin layer of caramel on top…just the right about.

  42. Hotly Spiced says:

    I’ve never added black pepper to a brownie before; I’d love to try this. The caramel topping looks delicious. Congrats on making it through a week of work xx

  43. I love the peppery kick you’ve added to these GORGEOUS brownies. I’ll take 3, please! 😉

  44. grace says:

    my taste buds don’t know the rules. they prefer me to put sugar in savory things and salt and pepper on sweet things. i can’t believe i haven’t tried this, but i will do so posthaste!

  45. holy high heavens……so decadent! I love the sea salt and the caramel and omg I bet the pepper adds such an interesting depth!

  46. Salt and pepper in brownies? It sounds exotic. Loving this fabulous idea, Joanne. This is mouth-watering good.

  47. Saranyaa says:

    How far ahead can this be made?

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