Fudgy, Spicy Cinnamon Chile Brownies

[Photograph: Andrew M. H. Alexander]

This is a pretty classic brownie approach, but these are anything but boring. I've modified the classic (and well-loved) Baker's One Bowl recipe to produce a firmer slice with a stronger chocolate flavor, which, while tender from ample butter, isn't greasy. These brownies are definitely sweet (sugar helps form superb chewy crusts) but they're balanced by some salt and plenty of spices. Fudgy brownie fans: This is for you.

I'm of the firm belief that a brownie is not a flourless chocolate cake, so this recipe is as much about texture and butter as it is about chocolate. But brownies also provide excellent opportunities to mix chiles and chocolates. I used a chocolate with a roasted coffee flavor profile, something deep and rich and almost smokey. Since it's diluted in a sweet batter, a chile that complemented its toasty flavors would get a little lost. Instead I opted for something to contrast the heaviness of dark chocolate, and chose a bright, oily, and acidic chile: guajillo.

You can pick them up at any Mexican market, and increasingly many mainstream ones; they're sometimes labeled as New Mexico chiles. Aleppo is another great chile for this, though it's a tad too bright and I miss some of guajillo's peppery richness. As for the cinnamon, fresh and spicy "Saigon cinnamon" is best; it rounds out the flavor of this brownie to make the closest thing I know to a universally adored dessert.

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Fudgy, Spicy Cinnamon Chile Brownies

About This Recipe

Yield:9 to 25, depending on brownie size
Total time:45 minutes, plus an overnight rest
This recipe appears in: Spice Hunting: Pairing Chiles and Chocolate
Rated:

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces high quality dark chocolate (at least 72 percent cacao), finely chopped
  • 10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 tablespoons guajillo or aleppo chile, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup flour

Procedures

  1. 1

    Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. In a small saucepan over low heat (or in a bowl over a pot of boiling water), melt the chocolate and butter with the chile, cinnamon, and salt, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.

  2. 2

    Line a 9" x 9" metal baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Use enough to create a lip over the sides of the pan. If using foil, lightly grease with butter.

  3. 3

    In a mixing bowl, combine the melted chocolate mixture with the sugar. When combined, add the eggs. Mix till smooth, then fold in the flour. Transfer to the baking pan. Bake until the brownies feel firm and a paring knife poked into the center comes out clean (you still want a few crumbs to stick), about 30 minutes.

  4. 4

    Using the parchment or foil lip, remove the brownies from the pan and cool completely. To greatly improve the texture and flavor, wrap the brownie slab in plastic and let it sit for several hours or up to overnight at room temperature. Slice into 9 large, 16 medium, or 25 small squares, and serve.

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