I’m a recipe developer riddled with imposter syndrome, but if there is one dish I’ve got a superiority complex towards, it’s my brownies. They’re beyond fudgy, packed with chocolate chunks, without a nut in sight (to my mother’s disapproval), and infused with a truly magical ingredient: sumac. I became obsessed with this crimson spice as I explored the Persian dishes my husband grew up eating. Made from the dried, ground fruits of the plant, sumac adds a tart, floral acidity to anything it touches. There hasn’t been one thing I’ve added it to that isn’t improved, especially dark chocolate. You don’t taste the sumac, per se, but you can definitely taste a more intense chocolate punch.
My brownie recipe is a culmination of years of tweaking and prodding an herbal version that I sobered up out of necessity to serve at my growing Shabbos extravaganzas. This headnote is truly an addendum to a heartfelt essay I wrote for Food52 about how my husband and I started hosting Shabbat to build queer community. Where that story ends, my annual Shabbanukkah Banger (the Shabbat that lands within the eight crazy nights of Hanukkah) begins. For the past two years, I’ve fried hundreds of latkes for hundreds of dreidel-spinning guests. And of course, the night always ended with me walking around with platters of my brownies.
That recipe is the only one I won’t share, naturally because it’s going to be the center of my future 500-million-dollar-Tate’s-cookies-level empire. But I promise these chewy-chocolatey brownie cookies are the sweetest consolation prize! They’re a slight variation of a cardamom-number I developed for my upcoming cookbook, Jew-ish. I use olive oil instead of butter to give a hat-tip to the festival of lights and a little flaky salt for a fancy finish. They’re the perfect pivot for a Hanukkah without the need for platters of brownies, though the latter might be debatable in the current state of the world.
I never expected brownies or brownie cookies to become so intertwined with my Jewish identity, but here we are. As someone who’s struggled with so many aspects of organized religion, while still feeling an intense responsibility to honor my heritage, the journey to finding the space to create my own narrative around Judaism has always been through the lens of hospitality. Tied to ancient tradition and ritual, the recipes I serve become absorbed into my lexicon of Jewish food. And most importantly, they become the vessels in which I can share joy, something that we can use an extra serving of this year. Hopefully a batch of these cookies will add a bit more sweetness to your Hanukkah this year, in whatever form it takes for you and your family. —Jake Cohen
Test Kitchen Notes
These cookies are part of Recipes to Give & Share, a collection of perfectly packable holiday treats that we're sending to our loved ones this year. —The Editors
- Prep time 1 hour
- Cook time 12 minutes
- makes 24 cookies
dark chocolate (70 percent cacao), chopped (2 2⁄3 cups)
extra-virgin olive oil
(102g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons
(200g) granulated sugar
packed (100g) light brown sugar
flaky sea salt, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Set a medium metal bowl over a small pot of simmering water. Put the chocolate and olive oil in the bowl and heat, stirring as needed, until melted and well combined. Remove the bowl from the heat.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sumac, kosher salt, and baking powder.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until thick and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the melted chocolate mixture, then gently fold in the dry ingredients until a smooth dough forms. Cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
- Scoop the dough into 2-tablespoon balls, rolling each gently with your hands to smooth it, and place on the prepared sheet pans, spacing the cookies 2 inches apart. You should have 12 cookies per pan. Sprinkle a pinch of flaky sea salt over each ball of dough. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and just starting to crack on the surface.
- Let cool completely on the pans, then serve.