My first meal at an Indian restaurant took place this summer. As you may have noticed, when I sample a cuisine that’s new to me, sometimes I get a little obsessive about replicating some of its flavors in a brownie. Although I still dream about the butter chicken I had as an entrée, sadly that’s not really a brownie-friendly flavor. No, my inspiration comes from chai- or, more correctly, masala chai. (Chai means tea; masala means spiced.) This spiced tea typically includes some combination of cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, and sometimes allspice or nutmeg.
Although there are a number of chai brownies recipes floating around the internet, most of them involve brewing tea and mixing the liquid into the brownies. This creates a milder spiced flavor and also adds the flavor of black tea. I decided to skip the tea and the brewing process and create a spice mix that could be added directly to any brownie recipe. For those of you who don’t have another brownie recipe in mind, I’ve chosen a moist, soft, but not too gooey brownie recipe that would be a good match with a nice cup of tea. These chai brownies are lighter in texture without being cakey. Each moist bite leaves a lingering taste of spices on the tongue; to an American palate, the flavor is reminiscent of gingerbread, and the scent will remind you of the Christmas holiday season!
Please note that the spice mixture is completely adjustable to your taste. You may omit a spice, decrease or increase a spice, or add a new spice without affecting the rest of the recipe- only the spice flavor will change.
- 1 cloves quantity spice mix (4 whole cardamom pods 2 whole , 1/4 tsp cinnamon, pinch of black pepper, pinch of ginger)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 TB stick unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled, 8
- Prepare an 8 inch square pan by buttering it and lining it with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350.
- Crack open the cardamom pods and remove the black seeds. Discard the green shells. Put all the spices into a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder and grind until fine.
- In a medium bowl, stir together spice mix, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, and sugar until combined. While whisking, slowly drizzle in melted butter, then whisk until combined.
- Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
- Scrape batter into pan and smooth out evenly.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.