My 10 year old daughter Clara has become quite the baker. She’s always surprising me with cookies, breads, muffins, and lately, even pies. But one of her favorite things to bake is also one of the easiest: brownies. She’s been making brownies for years, and she occasionally looks for a new variation on the tried and true standard chewy chocolate version that our family prefers.
Well, do I have a great variation for you: Chile-Chocolate Brownies from Sandra Gutierrez’s new cookbook, The New Southern-Latino Table. (It’s funny, but I’ve never met Sandra, but I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told, “Oh, you two should really meet!” Even now, after receiving a complementary copy of her new book, we still haven’t met. Time to fix that!)
But back to these brownies. I recently read a local magazine’s take on this rich, dense and moist brownies, which combines two different types of chile powder, one in the brownie itself and a spicier, smokier chipotle for the glaze. This magazine said that if you’re making these brownies for kids, leave out the chile powder. Leave out the chile powder? Are you completely out of your mind??? Yes, this recipe would make a very nice brownie without the spice, but it would still be relatively ordinary. It’s the chile powder that makes this dish something special, something unusual, something truly memorable. And the amount of heat is really not that great. We had a bunch of kids trying these brownies, and they all loved them. Were they a bit spicy? Yup. But combined with the sweetness and all that chocolatey richness, it was a perfect combination. So please, try making these brownies, just the way Sandra intended you to (although you can leave out the nuts, if so desired — we did). But do not leave out the chile powders — it’s all the difference between a good brownie and a kick-ass one.
And the recipe is so simple, even a 10-year old can make it!
The recipe below comes directly from Sandra’s cookbook. We made just two minor variations. First, we did not include the pecans. We wanted a nut-free version. Second, rather than melting chocolate in a double boiler, we did our standard operation of combining the butter and the chocolate in a large Pyrex measuring cup, and melting it in a microwave, thirty seconds at a time, stirring after each cycle. If you’re wondering where to find the chile powders, check out a Latino store, but I was lucky enough to find both types at my neighborhood Whole Foods.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ancho chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped and toasted pecans (optional)
For the glaze:
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon coffee-flavored liqueur
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 9x9x2-inch baking pan.
Place the butter and chocolate in the top of a double boiler and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they have melted and are well combined. Lift the bowl carefully from the pan so no water droplets come into contact with the chocolate mixture; let cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the sugar; add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; stir in the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ancho chile powder, and salt; gradually add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, beating well until fully combined. Add the pecans. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the center is set and the brownies begin to pull back from the sides of the pan. Cool brownies for 1 hour in the pan.
To make the glaze: in a medium bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, butter, liqueur, vanilla, and chile powder; blend until smooth. Place the glaze in a pastry bag (or zip-top bag with a snipped corner), and drizzle back and forth over the brownies.
Cut them into 20 bars.
Makes 20 brownies
Note: This post is part of the New Southern-Latino Table Dinner Party!