Chewy Sumac Brownie Cookies

March 20, 2021
10 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 12 minutes
  • makes 24 cookies
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound dark chocolate (70 percent cacao), chopped (2 2⁄3 cups)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (102g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground sumac
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed (100g) light brown sugar
  • 1 pinch flaky sea salt, for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. 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.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sumac, kosher salt, and baking powder.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Let cool completely on the pans, then serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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15 Reviews

Dave F. August 1, 2022
My cookies turned out flat. They came out puffy and crinkled but once they cooled they came out flat. Any suggestions? BTW, I love you cookie book, Jake....I bought it and it is fantastic!
FeastwithSafiya February 12, 2022
This recipe sounds wonderful! Going to give it a try. Thank you for sharing!
RosyFloof September 5, 2021
Such a great recipe! I made them with my (4 year old) daughter yesterday and they were so easy. I froze half the finished cookies to avoid us eating the whole batch in one go, but they are proving helpful right now for two poorly kids who don't want to eat much - they will of course eat these! Haha! So delicious, soft on the inside, slight chew to the outside - Perfect.
epicharis January 23, 2021
Beyond comprehension. The smoke and the salt, the texture, the ease with which it all comes together---it's been ages since any recipe has impressed me like this one. I probably should have used finer ground sumac, but instead I went with some really gorgeous magenta sumac we'd picked up in KSA for the pink color. This is absolutely a new staple in our household as long as we have neighbors around to eat them (we could have housed the entire batch ourselves, we were already in fierce combat over the leftover batter). Just incredible - thank you.
Isabel January 20, 2021
I really want to try making these cookies, but I had a question-- would replacing dark chocolate for milk chocolate be a good idea? If not, is the dark chocolate too pronounced/bitter? (the bitterness is what I don't like about dark chocolate). Thank you for sharing this recipe!
RosyFloof September 5, 2021
I didn't find them bitter at all, a really great rich chocolate flavour.
Jessicabob December 25, 2020
Jake, i made these cookies for Christmas day. I am mexican and everyone loved them super chocolate and sumac was perfect for dark chocolate cookies. I would make again
Katieq32 December 20, 2020
Really, really good cookies! Would make them again in a heartbeat. Super easy and really straightforward. Next time, I would weigh the amounts of dough to get more even-sized cookies as some were quite larger than others.
Lisa B. December 18, 2020
You are fabulous. Adding sumac to cookie dough is a revelation.
pkcountry December 16, 2020
Hi! I just became acquainted with sumac this year. I really want to make this recipe but only have dark cocoa powder. Can I sub the powder for the chocolate? Thanks!
andi December 6, 2020
Jake...I'm the biggest imposter in all forms of cooking but I keep at it! These are delicious...I made them smaller for "cookie boxes". Question: have you ever frozen the dough or the cookies? Seems they may stay fresh for several days if stored properly. Thanks for the recipe!
Jake C. December 8, 2020
The finished cookies freeze beautifully!
andi December 8, 2020
Franca December 5, 2020
Your head note brought tears to my eyes. Now I have to go bake these.
Jake C. December 8, 2020
Thank you!!