When I told some friends, also first year teachers, that I would bake for them if they came over to my apartment to lesson plan, their request was obvious: chocolate. So naturally I immediately thought of brownies. Now, I personally am a huge fan of boxed brownie mix. I think Ghirardelli does a perfectly good job, and, honestly, duncan hines are delicious too. But a blog post about how to add water to chocolate powder wouldn’t be all that exciting, and there was the additional request of chunks, which boxed mix doesn’t do all that well.
Plus I’m a chocolate snob, and making them from scratch let’s me use what I want to use.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to make these, I will tell you now that this will in no way be my only brownie post. In fact, I consider brownies a category of their own, outside of bars, because of all the different kinds I like. These are mexican brownies, so they have a bit of spice to them. Texture-wise, they are more towards fudgy than cakey, but not so fudgy that they stick to your teeth. There is a time and place for such dense deliciousness, but its not when you are also dealing with cinnamon and chili powder.
So first things first – melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl. I used the microwave technique again of putting them in a bowl and microwaving on 50% power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring with a fork after each round. And I used a Ghirardelli bittersweet baking bar because it was the highest percentage of cocoa I could find at A&P.
When there are still some smallish chunks of chocolate, just mix with a fork until it all melts. You don’t want to scorch the chocolate and the heat from the already melted butter will usually do the trick to make it look something like this:
Then, add the cocoa powder and mix until smooth. You can let the chocolate mixture sit and cool slightly while you move on.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until combined.
Then, while continuously whisking, add the chocolate mixture to the sugar mixture. Stopping whisking while you scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula is not going to ruin anything, don’t worry.
At this point, I’d probably recommend switching to a wooden spoon instead of the whisk, because the batter is about to get super thick and sticky, which is less fun to mix with bendy metal.
Add the flour, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and chili powder, mixing until just combined. Over-mixing at this point isn’t the end of the world, but it will add air to your batter, making it a little more cakey than fudgy.
Next step: fold in the chocolate chunks.
This is where you can get creative and do your own thing, but I am highly recommending chocolate chunks rather than chocolate chips. There is just something about them being a tiny bit bigger that makes them more chocolately and really works well in the brownie model. I think they might retain more of their structure since they are bigger, so rather than little pockets of molten melty chocolate you get the satisfying crunch. They’re awesome in cookies as well, but if you want chunky brownies, and you want those chunks to be chocolate, don’t bother buying chips.
However, nuts might be pretty good at this point as well rather than the chocolate. I’m not totally sure what would work the best with mexican chocolate, but I’d probably go pecans to play it safe – they seem to work in most desserts.
Alright, time to spread in a greased 8″x8″ pan. I just sprayed it with pam and poured the batter in. Some people like to do the whole aluminum foil thing, but as long as you grease the pan, they aren’t going to stick that bad. And is it really that bad to have to clean out the leftover brownie pieces with your hands and eat them?
Bake at 350°F for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out without batter on it (but with chunks of brownie sticking to it). Let cool completely in pan.
Once cool, cut into as few or many brownies as you like. I did 16 because I can be mildly OCD and I liked cutting the sides exactly in half twice.
I usually store brownies just on the stove in the pan with plastic wrap over them. They generally don’t last long enough to warrant anything further than that, but I’m sure you’d be fine to store them in airtight containers and freeze them if that’s your thing.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper (estimate a little under 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 2/3 cup chocolate chunks
- Melt butter and chocolate in microwave safe bowl on 50% power, stirring with fork every 30 seconds.
- Add cocoa powder and stir until smooth.
- Whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract in large bowl.
- Add chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth.
- Add flour, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and chili powder, mixing until just combined.
- Fold in chocolate chunks.
- Spread in greased 8″x8″ pan and bake at 350°F for about 35 minutes, until toothpick in center comes out without batter.
- Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving.
Giving credit where credit is due: this recipe was adapted from Baking Bites.