Monday, April 2, 2012

Mexican Brownies

I served these brownies as dessert during a recent dinner party with a Mexican theme.  I had a bunch of different dessert ideas but Alex requested that I make the "easiest" dessert option as we were already trying out 3 other new dishes.  So I went with brownies because I figured brownies were easier than either a Mexican Chocolate Tart with Cinnamon-Spiced Pecans or Mexican Wedding Cookies.  I took a really basic brownie recipe (one that is fairly similar to the Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts recipe I made awhile back) and added cinnamon, cayenne and chocolate chips to give it a little extra something.  I spent a few minutes deliberating about the use of cayenne versus ancho chili powder or another type of chili powder, but Alex and I decided that we wanted a hint of heat more than we wanted the smoky flavor of chili powder.  I also used Dutch-processed cocoa powder because I thought it would be smoother (and less bitter) than regular unsweetened cocoa powder.  I briefly debated that decision too until I realized that all we had was Dutch-processed cocoa powder.  I wanted to use bittersweet chocolate chips instead of semisweet, but Alex was busy and I couldn't reach the bittersweet chocolate chips so I just went with semisweet.  I also thought about adding pecans, but Alex is not a fan of nuts in baked goods so I decided to leave them out.

I thought that the brownies had a really nice smooth chocolate flavor and creamy texture with just a hint of cinnamon and cayenne.  I would say that the brownies were fudgy, rather than cakey (although they weren't super fudgy).  I liked the addition of the chocolate chips for a little texture and richness, although I wish that I had added the pecans for a little more texture.  We served the brownies with some nice vanilla ice cream and I thought they were a very nice ending to a successful meal (more on the rest of the meal later).

Recipe after the jump!

Mexican Brownies

2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment paper with butter.

Melt the 2 sticks of butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat (don't brown the butter, just melt it gently). Remove from the heat and let cool slightly (you don't want to scramble your eggs). Add sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until combined.

Add the cocoa, flour, cinnamon, chili powder, salt and baking powder and mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level it out with a spatula. Tap on the counter once or twice to even out the batter and remove any bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely, then remove the brownies from the pan and slice.

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