Brownies with a Kick

For some reason, I always associate brownies with Valentine’s day. I usually opt for Alice Medrich’s ethereal New Bittersweet Brownies from her most recent masterpiece, Pure Dessert.  However, seeing as the world has gone absolutely gaga over the Baked brownie, I figured I’d give that recipe a shot.  Given the nature of Valentine’s day, I also wanted to spice it up a bit with some cayenne pepper and cinnamon–just enough spice to make the back of your throat sing.

From the start, I could tell the Baked brownie recipe would be a cinch to put together.  Unlike Medrich’s recipe, the batter can be whipped up without a mixer.  Also, because the eggs aren’t beaten as much, the top crust of the Baked brownies is a lot thinner (the one downfall of Medrich’s brownies, in my opinion).

The result?  Well, these brownies sure are delicious–perfectly fudge-like, without a hint of gumminess.  The heat from the cayenne and the cinnamon is a wonderful addition, especially with a scoop of coffee ice cream right on top.  Although I’m still not convinced that the recipe tops Medrich’s brownie heaven, it places a close second, and earns a spot in my brownie recipe rotation.

Spicy Hot Brownies:
(adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)
These brownies are exceptionally tasty when topped with coffee ice cream.  I’m particularly fond of Haagen Dazs.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon high-quality cocoa powder (I use Callebaut)
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground espresso powder
5.5 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 8 x 8 inch pan. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cocoa powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and espresso.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the chocolate and butter.  Set over a pot of simmering water and stir until the chocolate and butter are completely melted.  Turn off the heat.  Add the sugars, and whisk to combine.  Remove the bowl from the pot.
Add the eggs to the mixture, one at a time.  Do not overmix the batter, beat only until the eggs are combined.  Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture and fold until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few crumbs.  Try not to overbake, or the brownies will lose their fudge-like consistency.
Let cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes.  Cut into 9 squares for large servings, or 12 for smaller servings.
Enjoy.
 
If you would like to try Alice Medrich’s New Bittersweet Brownie recipe, click on over to Slow Like Honey.