This is a story about how to win friends and how to lose friends. All through brownies. Brownies are that powerful. OK, I am exaggerating but these brownies are that good.
I was visiting a friend who was recovering from surgery and while she barely had mustered up an appetite all week, when I asked what I could bring her, she immediately exclaimed: “CHOCOLATE!”. What better way to satisfy a chocolate craving than through fudgy melt-in-your-mouth brownies? Well, when they are all spiced up! Consider this akin to the Mayan Chocolate Haagen-Dazs. These brownies, which are sinfully delicious as pure chocolate brownies, are elevated to the next level with the addition of cardamom, cinnamon and paprika. I opted to use a smoked sweet paprika, which lacks the true oomph of a chili powder, but I enjoyed the quiet subtleness of spice amongst the chocolaty goodness.
So these brownies made their rounds and received many praises. But how could I lose friends through brownies? Well, let’s just say I was never more insulted when a co-worker asked whether they were made from a box. Do brownies that taste like this come from a box? I don’t think so!! 11 ounces of dark chocolate came from a box, though… two boxes, actually.
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons chipotle powder (I used smoked sweet paprika so it didn’t have as much kick)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon (I used China Cassia cinnamon which I love as it has a bit of a bite)
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
11 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 glass or light-colored metal baking pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, cocoa powder and spices (chipotle, cinnamon and cardamom) together.
3. Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature. (I had a lot of fun tasting this… let me run my finger in here to see how warm it is… mmm..)
4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares and serve.
7. Tightly covered with plastic wrap, the brownies keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Makes 24 brownies