Nut lovers will appreciate these chunky brownies that get extra depth from ground coffee and black pepper. Dried apricots add a surprising tang that complements the anise and allspice.
Mocha Black Pepper Brownies with Pecans and Walnuts
Serves one 9 x 13 inch pan (about 2 dozen)
Lior Lev Sercarz, from "Mastering Spice" by Lior Lev Sercarz
3⁄4 teaspoon anise (2 grams)
1⁄2 teaspoon allspice berries (2 grams)
3 teaspoons Turkish coffee (4 grams), or 2 teaspoons whole coffee beans
1⁄4 teaspoon black peppercorns, preferably Tellicherry (1 gram)
Finely grind the anise, allspice, coffee, and peppercorns together.
1 cup salted butter (226 grams), cut into tablespoons
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (173 grams), or try spiced chocolate chips for a more layered flavor
1 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour (242 grams)
2⁄3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (64 grams)
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt (5 grams)
6 large eggs (360 grams)
2 1⁄2 cups sugar (500 grams)
1/4 cup diced dried apricots (46 grams)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (59 grams)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (59 grams)
The Spice Blend
To make the brownies: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line the bottom and all four sides of a 9 × 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. If the paper won’t stay down, you can wet the pan a little before pressing in the paper.
Combine the butter and chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute and stir until smooth. If the chocolate and butter don’t melt completely, microwave for another 15 seconds and stir. Repeat, heating in 15-second intervals, until smooth. Let stand to cool slightly.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a medium bowl and whisk in the spice blend.
Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until foamy. While whisking the eggs, add the sugar in a steady stream and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Add the butter-chocolate mixture and stir rapidly with a silicone spatula until fully incorporated. Add the remaining dry ingredients and fold gently with the spatula until no traces of flour remain. Then fold in the apricots, walnuts, and pecans.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spread it in an even layer, and bake until a toothpick inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
To serve, lift the brownies out of the pan using the parchment paper and cut into 2-inch squares.