I’ve gotten pretty famous in my family for my brownies, thanks to this no-fail, easy recipe by Food Network’s Aaron Sanchez. His calls for cinnamon and cayenne pepper for a Mexican kick, and I do follow that recipe a good amount of the time. But my husband is equally famous for his innovative homemade ice cream-making skills, and when he made a batch of vanilla-orange dreamcicle ice cream, I decided a great accompaniment would be orange flavored brownies, so I adapted this recipe here.

Initially, I intended to just omit the cinnamon and cayenne, and mix in a Lindt Intense Orange Dark Chocolate bar, but then remembered that I had bought a package of sumac the last time I was at World Market. I’d been hearing more and more about this unique spice lately, and had planned on trying it on chicken or something, but since it’s described as having a tart and tangy citrus taste, I thought it’d be perfect in the brownies. As I dug through my spice cabinet I also found a bag of dehydrated orange peel — bingo! The perfect way to round out these brownies.

The sumac, orange peel and dark chocolate bar give these brownies a lovely kiss of orange without being overpowering. Front and center is still the classic brownie, but with something lingering there that makes a person think, hmmm… what is that? I did a bit of research to see how often sumac is used in a sweet capacity, and honestly, there was very little. I can’t say for sure if it was the sumac or orange peel that sent these brownies over the top, but I like to think it was a perfect pairing.

If you’d like to read a bit more about sumac, this is a good post, and where I started with my love for this ground Mediterranean red berry. http://www.thekitchn.com/inside-the-spice-cabinet-sumac-67042

Intense Orange & Sumac Brownies

  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Ingredients
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dehydrated orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon ground sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  1. Instructions
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray — I use butter-flavored spray.
  3. Melt the 2 sticks of butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat—do not let it boil. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Add the sugar and vanilla to the saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon or ridged rubber spatula until well combined.
  4. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl, then add a few spoonfuls of the butter/sugar mixture to the eggs and whisk well. This allows the eggs to come up to the temperature of the butter, and will keep the eggs from cooking. Then add the eggs slowly to the butter/sugar mixture and keep whisking until well combined.
  5. Sift in the the cocoa, flour, orange peel, sumac, salt and baking powder, then mix until smooth. Don’t worry if it takes a while to combine, it will come together, I promise!
  6. Chop the Lindt Intense Orange chocolate bar into small pieces and gently fold into the batter.
  7. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out fudgy, 25-28 minutes, depending on your oven.
  8. Cool in the pan, then slice into 24 pieces before serving.