I was all set to whip up a no-bake recipe this weekend if Hurricane Irene knocked out our power. We were lucky, though, as our block was one of the few in town that didn’t lose power or flood. There’s nothing like passing houses with water-logged belongings piled out front that makes you realize how lucky you are.
On Sunday, once the worst had passed and I was getting some serious cabin fever, I decided to see if I could find a brownie recipe that was a little different from what I normally bake. I came across a recipe on the Food Network’s site from Aaron Sanchez – you may know him as one of the judges on Chopped. Or are Dennis and I the only ones addicted to that show? The recipe had stellar reviews so I decided to give it a try.
I was a little apprehensive about adding in chili powder and thought the spiciness might turn people off. So I subbed in Ancho chili powder which has more smokiness than heat. I added in a pinch of cayenne to bring in a little heat but I don’t think it was really noticeable. My brownies ended up being less Mexican brownies and more brownies with hints of cinnamon and smokiness. That wasn’t a problem though as my co-workers and Dennis gobbled them up. The texture was great too – cakey and not dense, perfect for a treat to celebrate seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Mexican Brownies (adapted from Food Network)
2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground Mexican cinnamon (canela) (I just used regular cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Press the paper into the corners of the pan and lightly grease the paper with butter.
Melt the 2 sticks of butter in a nonstick saucepan over medium-low heat; do not boil. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla to the saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
Add the cocoa, flour, cinnamon, chili powder, salt and baking powder and mix until smooth. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out fudgy, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack, then use the parchment paper to lift out the brownies before slicing.