One of my favorite winter indulgences is a good Mexican hot chocolate. The way that the melted dark chocolate mingles with the heat from chile peppers is irresistible, yet I've turned that flavor combination into sweets only once before. That was when I made chocolate cookies with ancho chile powder for a Cinco de Mayo party. It was high time I merged these flavors again, and though I love those cookies, this time was an even bigger success.
I knew I wanted to go the fudgy, not cakey route for the brownies. I knew that I wanted to use a mixture of unsweetened and bittersweet chocolates in order to dial back the sweetness while still maintaining a dark chocolate flavor. I also knew that I wanted to add some texture, but no distractions from the chocolate flavor, so I added dark chocolate chips. And finally, I wanted to round out the smoky flavor of ancho chile powder. But with what?
The magical combination was a mixture of ancho chile powder, plus cinnamon for earthiness and sweetness and cayenne pepper for heat. The final brownies are everything I wanted: moist and fudgy with a lightly crackled top. Eaten warm, you'll encounter pockets of melted dark chocolate chips. The chocolate flavor is intense, and the spices meld to provide the perfect warm, smoky, earthy heat. The flavor intensifies overnight, making them even better the next day.