Whenever I’m in the mood to bake, I end up raiding my pantry, trying to figure out what what I can make with the few staples I have on hand. Inevitably, I always have cocoa, sugar, and flour, which gives me the option of chocolate cupcakes and/or brownies. My 3 tear old always demands “Browdees, Mama”, so I usually give in and throw together some ingredients in a bowl, stir gently, and dump it in a pan. Honestly, brownies are kinda hard to mess up, especially if you’re not terribly picky about whether they’re fudgy, chewy, or cake-like. Around here, the guys prefer fudgy brownies and I don’t eat enough of what I bake to have a preference, so fudgy it usually is.
My youngest son was due for vaccinations today which had me twitchy last night and wandering around the house looking for something to bake/craft/clean (hey it’s how I deal with stress- my knee jerk reaction to anything stressful is, “OMG must clean all the things, then bake, then run around crazy, omgomgomg”. I never said I was normal). But I didn’t want a plain ol’ fudgy brownie, I wanted something spicy and with a strong taste. Dark chocolate is acceptable on my dairy free/soy free diet (no, brownies are not, but given the choice between eating chocolate and de-stressing or continuing to spaz out, I’m eating the brownie and not feeling badly about it), and we have home grown Habanero flakes my in-laws gave us, so I thought I would attempt an Aztec brownie. Hey, you can buy Chili Dark chocolate candy bars, so it’s gotta taste ok, right?
Turns out it’s AMAZING. Seriously, you NEED spicy brownies in your life. The dark chocolate keeps the batter from being too sweet and the spiciness shows up in the aftertaste, just a hint of heat. It’s not something I could eat every time I wanted dessert, and they take more effort to make than traditional brownies, but it is totally worth it. You could always make a batch and freeze half, too. Just pull one out and thaw it on the counter for about 45 minutes and it’s good. Feel free to substitute actual cayenne pepper for the Habanero flakes that I used, but we like things super spicy around here and it was what I had on hand. I’m pretty bad about using actual recipes or remembering amounts (I’m notorious for just throwing things in a pot/dish and not remembering what I did), but I wrote down the steps I took just so I could share it with you guys You’ll thank me later.
Aztec Dark Chocolate Brownies (makes 16 brownies)
3/4 cup Dutch Processed Baking Cocoa
8 tbsp (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 extra large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract (Mexican vanilla works best if you have it)
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper/Habanero flakes (I used 1/4 tsp)
pinch of cloves (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; line 8 in x 8 in pan with parchment paper
Melt butter in microwave. Add in cocoa and stir just until incorporated. Whisk in both sugars.
Whisk in eggs one at a time, then add in vanilla, salt, spices, and then the flour. Stir batter until large lumps are gone and mixture looks wet and shiny on top (about 50 strokes).
Scrape batter into pan and smooth it flat. It doesn’t pour and is pretty thick; that’s ok, just spread it evenly the best you can.
Bake about 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with only moist crumbs on it.
Pull out by parchment overhanging from dish and cool on wire rack. To make cleaner lines when cutting, chill in refrigerator for 30 mins.
I didn’t do it, because I was lazy, but I think this would be good with a cinnamon/sugar mixture sprinkled on top.
Also, make sure when putting in the cayenne pepper to sprinkle it evenly around the mixture. Even though you’ll be stirring it in, the batter is thick and you could get “pockets” of heat in the brownies if you don’t evenly sprinkle. Brownies are best when they’re not a) over stirred and b) overcooked.