I have a friend who throws a great potluck each month. Each month hosts a different theme, the food is delicious, and there always seem to be new faces (as well as some old ones). Last week’s was no different. The theme was food to warm you on the inside, and unlike most times I have to pick a dish, I knew exactly what I was going to make. Brownies. But not just any brownies, these are brownies with a bite. But hang on… to get the whole story, I have to back up a little bit.
See, one of the most frustrating things I deal with in my job (and luckily for me, there aren’t very many of them), is that I work on things that I can’t talk about here. I learn all kinds of recipes and find new ingredients, but then, the article or book or whatever isn’t published for weeks, months or sometimes even a year. I horde these secrets, wanting nothing more than to share them with you, but my hands are tied. I can’t scoop my friends or clients, so I resist, and make a mental note to come back later after any ethical dilemmas are past, and give my own spin to these foods. Unfortunately, mental notes in my head are like writing in the sand, and seem to get smoothed away before I know it. Only much later to I realize that, oops, I never did get around to sharing this or that here.
So with that in mind, I think I told you a while back that I was shooting some books for Sasquatch Books. This has been an utter joy for me this year… the first of the books are starting to roll out, and in fact, I happened upon one of them in a store today (all the photos except the large, dinner setting on the front cover are mine). And, Crate & Barrel even has this one in it’s latest gift catalog (expect to be seeing some fun Popcorn recipes soon!). Last week, I started on yet another themed cookbook for Sasquatch, on a food I always find hard to refuse. That book won’t hit shelves for quite a while, so I can’t share anything from it yet, but I can tell you that it is packed full of the most amazing recipes. I can’t wait for it’s release!
In the meantime (and before I forget), I will tell you that one of its recipes was the inspiration for these warm you on the inside brownies. The ooey-gooey squares have a secret ingredient… Ancho chile powder. I’ve always loved the combination of spicy with chocolate, but in the past, I’ve usually used cayanne which gives the kick without really changing the flavor. Ancho chiles, on the other hand, add a rich smokiness along with a curious tickle at the back of your throat that I love. And I don’t seem to be the only one. The brownies were a huge hit at the potluck despite the fact that I hadn’t let them cool completely before adding the spicy ganache frosting, and so ooey-gooey squares had to turn into ooey-gooey spoonfuls.
Warm You on the Inside Brownies
For this recipe, I started from David Lebovitz’s Dave & Kate’s Remarkable Brownies, in The Great Book of Chocolate, and added a heaping teaspoon of Ancho chile powder. Depending on your spiciness sensibilities, you may want to add more. Try tasting a bit before you put in the eggs to see if you need it any hotter. Don’t add too much ancho chile powder though, or your brownies might get gritty. If you find yourself wanting more of a kick, try adding some cayanne along with the ancho chile powder instead.
I also added a mixture of corn and all purpose flour instead of straight all-purpose for no particular reason other than I had the mixture of the two left over from another recipe. Feel free to use all all purpose, or your own mixture.
8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup caster sugar
1 t ancho chile pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 t vanilla
5 T all purpose flour
2 T corn flour
1/4 t salt
Spicy Chocolate Ganache (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325F (160C).
In a medium pan, melt the butter. Reduce heat to low, and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until melted. Take the pot off of the heat, and stir in the sugar and ancho chile powder. Then, add the eggs and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flours and salt. Then, add to the chocolate mixture and mix well.
Scrape the mixture into a lightly greased 8-inch square pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until well set. Cool in the pan on a wire rack, and then generously frost with the Spicy Chocolate Ganache.
Spicy Chocolate Ganache
1/4 c heavy cream
2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 t ancho chile powder
1/2 t cayanne pepper
Heat the heavy cream until warm, but not boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and chile powders and stir until smooth. Let the mixture cool slightly before spreading.