Mexican chili chocolate brownies

Brownies with chili powder.

For Valentine's Day, I made Mexican brownies with ancho chili powder.

A year ago, I was in school, taking a food history class at Kendall College. The college charged me a fee for photocopying and then gave me a $25 credit on my ID card to use the copying machines on campus and printers in the computer lab. I realized quickly that I wouldn’t need to do $25 of printing for one class.

I also discovered the trove of cookbooks in the college library. I began checking them out, flipping through to mark recipes I wanted and then using my copying credit to photocopy them. I ended up with a huge pile of recipes, most of which I have yet to try.

One of the ones I most wanted to make was for a chocolate mole brownie. It came from a Mexican cookbook that I can’t identify now because I didn’t think to write down the name. The recipe has been sitting in my bin of things-to-try for a year, and finally, on Valentine’s Day, I made it.

As I mentioned in my last post, G. was in Canada, so I was alone for the holiday. I thought the brownies would cheer me up. My mom says she always knew when I was stressed out in graduate school because she would call and ask what I was doing, and I would be making or eating brownies. It was a good thing that I was a runner back then. Otherwise, I probably would have been huge.

So, I made the Mexican brownies with a few adaptations. I added an extra egg and cut out sesame seeds, feeling the walnuts were enough. I also toasted the walnuts. And, given the choice, I used cinnamon rather than a Mexican spice I’d never heard of. I figure, use what’s in your cabinet.

The brownies are great. They have a very slight kick, or as G. described it later, a slow burn that doesn’t hit you until the end.

I think the thing that made me most happy about making them, though, was just the fact that I finally did it, after a year. I often feel like there’s so much that I want to do, and there’s never enough time, and we can only eat so much, that I can’t possibly cook every dish that looks good. So, to get around to a recipe I’d been wanting to try for so long gave me a sense of accomplishment and relief. I feel like I can stop obsessing about it now.

Chili Chocolate Brownies

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 pound butter
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons ancho chili powder
1 cup flour
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 x 12 baking dish.

Melt chocolate with butter. I did this in the microwave, but you can do it on the stove with a double boiler.

Beat eggs with an electric mixer. Add sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and chili powder. Stir in chocolate and butter. Stir in flour. Stir in walnuts.

Pour into pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Do not overbake or brownies won’t be chewy and edges will be overdone.

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