{Recipe: Black Sesame Cocoa Brownies w/ Salted Caramel Chocolate Ganache & Black Hawaiian Salt}

Every once in a while I get intense chocolate cravings, specifically for a deep, dark and delicious brownie. And it was not one of those cravings that could be satisfied with a few squares of chocolate.

Lucky for me, I recently received my enjoy package from the lovely Joy the Baker which included a bag of dark cocoa from King Arthur that would be the perfect base for my brownie batter.

Some people are partial to brownies made with melted chocolate, but I have to admit, this cocoa brownie recipe I tried awhile ago from Smitten Kitchen is one of my favourites. The rich chocolate flavour comes from the combination of dark cocoa and butter, no need for a double boiler here. 

The batter mixes together into this black onyx colour = intense chocolately flavour. It reminded me of the black sand beaches I visited on my trip to Hawaii years ago. For an exotic twist, I stirred in black sesame seeds, which adds an aromatic nutty flavour with a hint of bitterness and a pleasant texture contrast to the thick fudgey batter.

These brownies were the perfect opportunity to use these dark chocolate covered puffed quinoa pearls.

The topping was inspired by a memorable chocolate bar I had bought on my San Fran trip last year. A Vosges chocolate black salt caramel exotic bar. 70% cocoa dark chocolate with a soft and gooey burnt sugar caramel center flecked with black hawaiian sea salt.

I’ve been dying to use this new organic salted caramel dark chocolate ganache I bought at Casel Marche last week and this brownie was the perfect vehicle for it.

I spread a thin layer of the ganache on the cooled brownie, then decorated the top with flecks of black hawaiian sea salt (solar evaporated Pacific sea salt combined with activated charcoal) and the dark chocolate covered puffed quinoa pearls. Since these brownies are so rich and decadent, I cut them up into small squares for the perfect bite size morsel.

Chocolate craving officially satisfied, bon appetit!

Asian Pacific Rim Brownies (brownie base adapted from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet via Smitten Kitchen)

Makes 16 larger or 25 smaller brownies

  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks, 5 ounces or 141 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (9 7/8 ounces, 280 grams) sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 7/8 ounces, 82 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt, as I used)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1/2 cup (66 grams, 2 3/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup black sesame seeds


  • Salted Caramel Chocolate Ganache (I bought a jar, but I found a recipe here)
  • Black hawaiian salt
  • Chocolate covered quinoa pearls (I got mine at Community Natural Foods, but I’ve found this brand online here)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added. [Note, many people who have tried this recipe have found that this step works just fine in the microwave. Couldn’t test this because we don’t have one, but it sounds like it would work.]

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the black seseame seeds. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes is Medrich’s suggestion but it took me at least 10 minutes longer to get them set. Let cool completely on a rack.

Spread a layer of the salted caramel ganache evenly over the top and sprinkle with the black salt and the dark chocolate quinoa. (Put them in the fridge or freezer for a while; it’s the only way I can get them to cut with clean lines.)

Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and let them sit out an hour at room temperature before serving.

8 Responses to “{Recipe: Black Sesame Cocoa Brownies w/ Salted Caramel Chocolate Ganache & Black Hawaiian Salt}”
  1. prairiesummers says:

    Chocolate heaven and now I know what to do with my black sea salt 🙂

  2. Leah says:

    You’re blog is looking extra excellent these days! Your photos and typography touches are great! Can’t wait for the PARIS posts 🙂

  3. rsmacaalay says:

    That looks so good! so delectable

  4. coldprairie says:

    Those look officially amazing! I’ve made the Ghirardelli triple chocolate brownies from the mix sold at Costco, and they are quite good, but I’m sure don’t compare to the chocolatey goodness of yours. 🙂

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