Mexican Brownies

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I’m an unabashed fan of all things chocolate and when the weather cools down I love to sip a rich, creamy and spicy mug of Mexican hot chocolate. The warm chocolate is spiked with spicy cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper for a kick that takes the drink far beyond your hot chocolate mix you drank as a kid. So with this cool weather I’ve been baking a lot and on a recent afternoon as I was sipping the afore mentioned hot cocoa I began to wonder how I could take the drink I love and turn it into a baked good. The answer….my friends…..are these sweet and spicy brownies.

The recipe is an adaptation of my favorite amaretto brownie recipe. These brownies have the same rich and fudgy texture as their almond infused counterparts. This version, however, is kicked up a notch with the inclusion of cinnamon, cayenne pepper and, for good measure, espresso powder. Adjust the amount of cinnamon and cayenne pepper to please your own taste buds; just be sure to mix the spices when adding them to the flour otherwise you may encounter a rather spicy surprise. Espresso powder is readily available in the coffee section of most grocery stores. If you don’t have any you can substitute instant coffee instead. Simply give it a whirl in a spice grinder first to ensure that it is super fine.

These brownies are best served warm and for an extra special treat, top them with a scoop of ice cream. Yum!

MEXICAN BROWNIES

5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon espresso powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil then coat lightly with vegetable spray.
  • Melt the chocolates, butter, and cocoa in the microwave, stirring often, 1 to 3 minutes. Let the mixture cool slightly.
  • Whisk the sugar, eggs, extract, and salt together in a large bowl until well combined.
  • Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until smooth.
  • In a small bowl, combine flour with the espresso powder, cinnamon, salt and cayenne pepper.
  • Stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until no streaks remain.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes.
  • Let cool completely on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, before removing the brownies from the pan using the foil and cutting into squares.

YIELD: 36 small brownies

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