Each month, a Cornish food blogger called Choclette runs an event called We Should Cocoa on her Chocolate Log Blog. This event, which was originally also conceived by Chele of Chocolate Teapot, challenges food bloggers to create a recipe that involves chocolate and a specially chosen monthly ingredient. This month’s special ingredient is chili peppers, and the host is Shaheen of Allotment 2 Kitchen.
When I read that the theme for this month’s We Should Cocoa event was Chocolate and Chili, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. For months, I’ve been eyeing the packets of Mexican drinking chocolate in the Hispanic section of my grocery store, wondering if I could find a way to incorporate the flavor of Mexican hot chocolate into a brownie recipe. That’s how the idea for this Mexican hot chocolate brownies recipe originated.
The execution of the idea, however, has been a work in progress. Having seen a number of similar recipes online, I did a little research to determine what flavors, exactly, to include.
For example, the ancient Aztecs (who lived in what is now Mexico) had dozens of recipes for chocolate drinks. These drinks were very different from what we drink today, and could include a number of medicinal herbs and spices that you might not necessarily want in your wake-up cup of cocoa. Using Wikipedia as a reference, I’ve listed some of the most common ingredients below.
- A spice that is a relative of the black pepper plant
- A type of cinnamon called canela
- Flavoring from the vanilla bean pod
- A type of red pepper
I also wanted to reflect the flavors of a modern cup of Mexican hot chocolate. In my local grocery store, Mexican hot chocolate comes in at least six different varieties. Some are sweetened with sugar, or with brown sugar. Others include vanilla (or artificial vanilla flavoring) or cinnamon.
Taking the best of the old and the new, I settled on a combination of vanilla, cinnamon, actual melted Mexican drinking chocolate, and a dash of red pepper. It’s a rich and flavorful combination that takes fudgy brownies to a whole new level. If you like your brownies with some spice, I recommend that you try these Chai Brownies, too.
And don’t forget to visit Allotment 2 Kitchen to see all the other entries!
Spiced Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies
- 8 TB unsalted butter
- 3 oz unsweetened chocolate roughly chopped (you may use baking chocolate or unsweetened Mexican drinking chocolate)
- 1 cup brown sugar firmly packed
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 dash cayenne pepper or paprika if you prefer it less spicy
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs room temperature, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 350, then prepare a 9-inch round pan by buttering it and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
- Place the chocolate and the butter together in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave at 50% power for 1 minute. Stir, then continue microwaving in 30 second bursts, stirring in between, until chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
- In a large bowl, combine the butter/chocolate mixture with the brown sugar. Stir to combine. Add the salt, cinnamon, pepper, and vanilla extract, then stir again. Mixture will be grainy.
- Add the eggs and stir until just combined.
- Add the flour and stir gently until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Brownies are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs but no wet batter attached.
- Cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Then place a large plate over the pan, invert it, and remove the parchment liner. Place another plate over the brownies and invert again to turn them right side up.
- When completely cool, dust with a layer of powdered sugar, then a light dusting of cinnamon. Slice into wedges and serve.