I was first introduced to Turkish coffee in Israel. Prepared in the traditional copper cezve, it was served piping hot and in beautiful, delicate cups. I quickly became enamored of its strong flavor and clean, robust taste, unmarred by sugar.
In addition to the pure taste of coffee, there was another flavor I couldn’t quite place. When I asked the brewer what it was, he told me it was cardamom. It seemed a strange combination at first, but as I kept drinking I found it was enjoyable — like a stronger, undiluted version of a dirty chai (Indian-spiced tea). Coffee and cardamom have since become one of my favorite flavor pairings and I think it’s a pairing that has found its true home here, in these deep, dark, ridiculously fudgy brownies.
Now, I know people have fierce opinions when it comes to brownies; fudgy or cakey? Cocoa or chocolate or both? Chemical leavening or just eggs?But I am a firm brownie purist: All brownies should be fudgy, with crackly tops, edges for those who like them, made with both cocoa and chocolate. You can leave out the coffee and cardamom for a more classic treat or embrace the Middle Eastern flavors and embellish these already indulgent brownies with a cinnamon-spiced caramel and flaked salt, for an over-the-top, just-what-your-January-needs hit of decadence.
For the brownies:
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup Dutch cocoa powder
- 2 tsp espresso powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
For the caramel:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- flaky salt, for sprinkling (optional)
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper, and grease with a nonstick cooking spray.
- In a double boiler or a medium heatproof bowl placed over a gently simmering pot of water, melt chocolate, butter, cocoa and sugar together until mostly smooth. Turn off the heat, stir until completely smooth and fully melted.
- Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then vanilla, espresso powder and cardamom and salt.
- Stir in flour with a spoon and scrape batter into prepared pan, spreading until even.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free.
- While the brownies bake, make the caramel: Melt the sugar over medium to moderately high heat in a 2-quart pot, stirring the sugar as it melts to ensure it heats evenly.
- Cook the liquefied sugar to a copper color. Add the butter and stir until the butter melts. Lower the heat and slowly drizzle in the heavy cream, whisking the whole time.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon and salt. Set aside until needed.
- Cut the brownies into 16 or 32 squares and serve with cinnamon caramel sauce drizzled over the top. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt if desired.