If you’ve ever been to Lilia in Brooklyn, NY, you know that a forkful of Missy Robbins’ cacio e pepe is like being struck by cupid’s arrow, only it’s better because instead of falling in love with a person you’re falling in love with a big a pile of pasta.
But it isn’t the copious amounts of cheese or the squiggly edges of house-made mafaldini to go head over heels for—it’s the pink peppercorn. The fruity, slightly sweet, peppery spice is an unexpected and totally inspired surprise.
I enjoyed that pasta so much, I’ve since experimented with pink peppercorn in just about everything. I’ve used it in place of capers in a rosé piccata. I’ve mixed it with honey and drizzled it over baked feta. One time I was so desperate for a pinch that I sorted through a jar of tri-peppercorn blend I found in my spice cabinet just to snag a few.
Besides it’s obvious flavor disparagement, pink peppercorn is very different from black peppercorn. The biggest distinction is that it isn’t a peppercorn at all. Since it’s peppercorn-sized and has some flavor similarities, it’s often labeled as such. In actuality, it’s a dried berry from a Brazilian pepper tree, which explains its fruit-like flavor. And since it’s a little sweet and a little spicy and I can’t seem to get it off my mind, I thought it would be a perfect addition to a Valentine’s Day dessert. And what better way to showcase its flavor and beauty than in a blondie, the edible equivalent of a blank canvas.