Chewy, Salty Brownie Cookies Will Change Your Mind About Black Licorice Forever

August 31, 2018
The chewiest, saltiest black licorice brownie cookies that ever were. Photo by Bobbi Lin

It all started with a recipe from Edd Kimber, aka The Boy Who Bakes: a brownie crinkle cookie that took Instagram by storm. I, along with everyone else, loved it and wanted to find a way to make it my own. I tried swapping in muscovado sugar, adding toffee pieces, even using white chocolate in place of dark, but all proved unyielding. Then, I remembered baking Gail Simmons’ licorice chocolate brownies.

Most people don’t like black licorice; in fact, most people hate the polarizing flavor. That probably has something to do with the reason I can’t get enough of it: I’ve always been attracted to flavors that elicit a strong reaction. This time, however, I wasn’t prepared for the negative comments that these brownies received when I posted them on Instagram, and I deleted the post soon after.

Looking back, the thing I remember most is not the comments, but how delicious the brownies were. Kimber’s cookie reminded me that the part I love about baking for Instagram is the shock factor, whatever form that takes. I decided to borrow ideas from both recipes, and the result was magical. Both the taste and the texture were everything I was working toward.

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As it turns out, something unique happens when licorice and chocolate join forces. The experience becomes something entirely new—not your typical chocolate cookie nor the intense pep of licorice candies, especially salty Swedish salmiakki. The notes of one blend with the other, and it's almost impossible to determine where one flavor ends and the other begins. The chocolate softens the bite of the licorice, and the licorice wakes it up. This cookie is salty, sweet, and surprisingly complex.

I’ve always been attracted to flavors that elicit a strong reaction.

As for the Instagram of it all: A simple tapping of the sheet tray on the counter after baking provided the visual I was looking for. It helped deflate the cookies, resulting in the beautiful cracked tops that were perfectly tailored for a photograph.

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Top Comment:
“Thank you or whomever invented them I would put a touch less licorice and anise powder next time ... and is there a way for the chocolate to be a bit more chunky as opposed to melting completely?”
— Shawn R.

Sure, this cookie may not be for everyone—but those who like it, love it.

Black licorice: love it or hate it? Let us know in the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Kim A. October 13, 2019
LOVE Black Licorice !!
Shawn R. October 11, 2018
These were by far the best and most well received cookies I’ve ever made !! Thank you or whomever invented them
I would put a touch less licorice and anise powder next time ... and is there a way for the chocolate to be a bit more chunky as opposed to melting completely?
Debbie B. October 11, 2018
Love It!!!! I always get the black jelly beans at Easter, because nobody wants them, bonus. My husband hates it but always buys me the best black licorice he can find for Christmas and holidays.
Jeannie September 2, 2018
Love Black Jack gum. Made black licorice ice cream last week. Tomorrow am going to try these cookies.
Bea September 1, 2018
Ok...ready for this? I LOVE black licorice but can't stand anise and find fennel revolting..don't ask how that happened but I'm so excited to try this recipe. Never take down something you posted on Instagram..what? Good or bad you are giving in to hate! Leave it for those who loved it. More will come along that love it if given the chance. I'm so #PROUD of you for reposting it. Well done!
charlotte September 1, 2018
I love, love, love black licorice. Can't get enough of it. I'll try these cookies soon and follow up.
Ali K. September 1, 2018
Dutch decent + a brownie enthusiast. These sound amazing. Post on IG + send the haters packing. How boring if we all liked exactly the same things. 🖤 🖤 🖤
charlotte September 1, 2018
I agree🖤🖤🖤
judy September 1, 2018
I've been a fan of all things licorice since I was a small child. My Scottish Aunt introduced me to the stuff when I was about 3. Then I discovered Anise when I made Joy of Cooking Anise cookies from one of her early cookbooks that my father had (I learned ALL my cooking from that wonderful cook book--read it from cover to cover many times). Then, fennel entered the picture. Then most recently Thai Basil whit's licorice-like notes. I use some version in so many different preparations from smoothies, to chai to curries baked goods. But never thought of trying with chocolate. Well, this is this weekends' baking experiment (I try to do several a month). Thank you so much! (I don't know why I never thought of this, I love chocolate licorice all-sorts).
M August 31, 2018
Have you tried Black Jack gum? mmm
Bea September 1, 2018
OMG, I loved that growing up. Do they still make it? Thanks
M September 3, 2018
First response went into moderation and never showed up.

The gum gets released every so often and is set to come back again this fall. You can find it online. (It freezes well for the off-times in between!)
Cookee N. September 28, 2019
I believe all Cracker Barrel Restaurant Gift Areas carry this gum and Teaberry too, and check the Vermont Store catalog on line.

phara August 31, 2018
This is the most exciting cookie I've seen in years. I'm TOTALLY with you, if it's not polarizing, why bother?? I'll be whipping these up and violating all my no-sugar promises before the weekend's out.
Eric K. August 31, 2018
Charli, your cookies make me want to be a better person...