Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies

I don't like brownies.  Really.  I don't see the appeal in them.  Most brownies just taste like chocolate and flour, and I don't mean that in a good way.  I find 99% of brownie recipes to be one note. They are dense, and taste of cake-y chocolate with no real character and after about one bite, they get incredibly dull.  If a dessert requires a cup of coffee, a scoop of ice cream, or whipped cream in order to be good, then it is not a good dessert.  Good desserts should be able to stand on their own.

So it goes without saying that I rarely ever make brownies, yet here I am, posting about a brownie recipe.  I like this recipe so much the first time I made it, I had to make a second batch the next day to be sure that it wasn't a fluke.  This is no mistake: this recipe is gold.

The brownies that this recipe turns out are just sweet enough, but not at all cloying.  You don't need coffee or milk or ice cream to make these good.  In fact, I've eaten them for breakfast.  The espresso in the batter heightens the deep flavor of the dark chocolate, and the cinnamon adds a warm background fragrance.  Best of all are the lingering notes of black pepper and cayenne pepper.  They add just enough heat to makes your tastes buds light up, but it isn't at all overwhelming.  In fact, I find the spiciness rather comforting.  Of course, you can adjust this to your liking.  The first time I made this recipe, I omitted the cayenne pepper but used freshly ground black pepper.  It was delicious.  The second time I used both.  Also delicious.  Seriously, I have no complaints about this recipe.

If you're like me and you don't normally make brownies, I beg you to make an exception in this case.  Or if you the type of person who loves brownies, I highly suggest trying these.  The recipe is very easy to make.  I did this in a food processor for easy clean up, but you can also make this with a standard mixer.

Happy Holidays all!

This pictures speaks for itself.  Make these brownies.
Mexican Hot Chocolate 
adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

11 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao... I used Ghiradelli bars the first time and chocolate chips the second time... both worked just fine)
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, cubed
1 tsp instant coffee or espresso powder
⅓ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp table salt
2 Tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
½ to 1 tsp black pepper (the amount depends on you... I used freshly ground)
½ tsp ground red cayenne pepper  (can be omitted entirely)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Alternatively, melt in a microwave safe bowl by nuking for 20 seconds, stirring, and repeating until completely melted.
In a food processor, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, cocoa powder, black pepper, and cinnamon. Pulse until the mixture is completely smooth and homogenous. Add the melted chocolate mixture and pulse to combine. Add the vanilla extra and 3 eggs. Pulse until smooth. Add in the remaining 2 eggs and pulse until just combined.
Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl in this fashion: pour about half of the batter in, then sift in half of the flour. Pour in the remaining batter and sift the remaining flour on top. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold the flour into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible. You do not want to overwork the batter.
Pour the batter into a buttered 9x13 glass or light-colored metal baking pan. Smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it.  Do not overbake.  Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares and serve.

Note that these brownies freeze beautifully and will keep for about a month in the freezer if well wrapped (saran wrapped and in an air tight container or ziplock bag).  At room temperature, these will keep for 4 days.  You can also keep these brownies in the fridge for about a week.


  1. Replies
    1. It makes one 9x13 pan of brownies OR two 8x8 or 9x9 pans of brownies OR one very thick 9 or 10-inch circular pan of brownies (you cut and serve it like slices of a cake). The total yield in number of pieces depends on how big you cut your slices. It's enough for a party of at least 12 people if everyone takes one big piece.