Mexican Chocolate Brownies


I’ve been madly craving brownies lately… and it has come to a point where shelling out $2-$4 each time I’m craving a brownie became ridiculous and I decided to take my cravings into my own hands. Introducing, the Mexican Chocolate Brownies. They’re Mexican because they are spicy. Mexican hot chocolate is known to include cinnamon… hence these brownies’ nomenclature.

The recipe called for chili powder or cayenne, which I didn’t have. I had some bird’s eye chili (or chilli padi, as we Singaporeans like to call them) and since it is ferociously spicy by most standards, I decided to just mix in the seeds from one chili for a 9 x 5 dish. It didn’t turn out very spicy at all, which I was disappointed by. However, the texture was delightfully fudgy and if you wanted a fudgy brownie, these definitely make the cut. If I were to make this again, I’d try to make sure I have all the ingredients before embarking on the recipe. Or just put in more chili seeds. The spicier, the better. Maybe next time I’d even try including Taza’s Guajillo Chili chocolate, which is probably one of the few chocolates I would happily nibble on all by itself. (Other chocolates I would do that to include Trader Joe’s Pound Plus semisweet for its good value and versatility and Vosges Chocolate for its variety. I would welcome a bar of either for my birthday, thank you very much.)

Mexican Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from Baking Bites
Makes one 9 x 5 pan

1/4 cup butter
1-oz bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/6 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup chocolate chips (pref. semisweet or bittersweet)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×5 baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Stir in cocoa powder until fully incorporated. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, egg and vanilla extract. Whisking steadily, pour chocolate mixture into sugar mixture. Stir until smooth. Sift flour, ground cinnamon, cayenne pepper, chili powder and salt into the bowl and stir until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until brownies set and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pan comes out with only a few moist crumbs, not batter, attached.
Cool in the pan completely before slicing.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

As meaningless as the words “red velvet” as a flavor might be if you’re not American, I was very intrigued by it. Red velvet. Doesn’t that sound luscious, calling to mind imagery of rich, sensuous, luxury? And red velvet desserts are often visually very striking as well. (Unless you make an albino red velvet cake, like I did.) I know it’s all food coloring, but for me, the best part of a red velvet cake is its cream cheese frosting. What really got me into baking was cheesecake. I think my first ever successful baking experiment was a rainbow cheesecake, which you can view here. Since then, cream cheese and I have had a great affinity for each other.

What better way to maximize the cheesecake effect than to incarnate red velvet in a red velvet cheesecake brownie form? This recipe is very easy to follow. Texture-wise, it’s not quite as fudgey as I’d like, but I wouldn’t call it cakey either. It falls squarely in the middle of the two, but gets fudgier if you chill the brownies before eating. I also have a pretty hard time getting the cheesecake layer to marble nicely, but I think that’s because I put too much of the brownie layer on top. I think the trick is to reserve less of the batter than you think you might need.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
Adapted from FoodNetwork.com
Makes 1 8×8 inch pan

Red Velvet Brownie Layer:

6 tbsps unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Cream Cheese Layer:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking pan or line it with parchment/aluminum foil, and set aside.

Brownie layer: In a saucepan on medium heat melt the butter. Remove the butter to a large bowl and add the sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar, in that order, mixing between additions. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and stir it into the cocoa mix. Fold in the flour until lightly combined. Stir in the walnuts and pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, saving 1/4 cup of the batter for the top.

Cream cheese layer: Blend together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Gently spread the cream cheese layer on top of the brownie batter in the pan. Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese layer. Using a skewer or the tip of a knife, drag the tip through the cream cheese mixture to create a swirl pattern. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before cutting.

Bourbon Whiskey Fudge Brownies


I have a bottle of bourbon whiskey around, and drinking it straight was kind of torturous. What I like to do with alcohol that’s hard to swallow in its natural state is mix it with lots of sugar. And butter. And these fudge brownies have a lot of sugar and butter. It really is a dense and fudge-y brownie, and the downside to that is that you can’t really get drunk on these brownies because they’re so rich and decadent. Or is that an upside? Regardless, the alcohol flavor is pretty subtle, so no one’s getting drunk on these. Based on all the recipes I’ve seen, it seems like bourbon is a popular match with bacon, pecan, apples, chocolate, and butterscotch. All good stuff.

Regarding the recipe, I cut it down to a third and added a little bit more bourbon into the brownie, because the original recipe said the alcohol taste was subtle and if I’m going to put hard liquor in my dessert I better be feeling it. Having a digital kitchen scale is really, really useful for scaling down recipes. I highly recommend getting one. Kitchen scales are inexpensive and they help make your baking so much better. This Escali Primo one is the one I have, and it’s less than $20. I also baked my brownies in ramekins, and as a result, had to pull it out of the oven when it was a tad underbaked so it could continue cooking through while in the ramekin.

Bourbon Whiskey Fudge Brownies
Makes 4 servings, or 2 3.5 inch diameter ramekins worth
Adapted from Cookie Madness

2 ounces (57g) unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1.16 ounces (33g) good quality unsweetened chocolate, cut up (I used Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Baking Chocolate)
1/3 ounce (10g) bittersweet chocolate, cut-up
1/3 cup (64g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (32g) brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 teaspoon vanilla
1 tbsp bourbon plus 1 tablespoons for brushing top
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup (40g) all purpose flour
12 or so pecan halves (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 3.5 inch ramekins with parchment paper, or use 3 muffin tins.

Melt butter in a saucepan set over medium heat. When butter starts to melt and coats pan bottom, add chocolate and reduce heat to low. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted. Add the granulated sugar to melted chocolate and stir over low heat for about a minute or two. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.

Beat eggs with an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until very light. Add brown sugar to eggs and continue beating for another two minutes. With mixer going, add melted chocolate mixture to egg mixture. Scrape sides of bowl and beat in vanilla, 1 tablespoon bourbon and salt. Add the flour and stir just until mixed.

Pour into pan the pan and bake for 20 minutes or set. Let cool for about 20 minutes on a wire rack, then brush tops with remaining 1 tablespoon bourbon. Let the brownies cool to room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for a few hours or overnight.

The chilling/sitting time is important. The texture changes as the brownies chill. This also gives the bourbon flavor some time to develop, though it is quite mild.

Cheesecake Brownies

Cheesecake brownies are a perfect way to use up your cream cheese when you only have a block or less. So I made some! I used a recipe from David Lebovitz and tweaked it to include less sugar in the brownie base. The brownie turned out to be not noticeably sweet, but the richness of the chocolatey base and the creaminess of the cheesecake layer made it feel like an adult brownie.

Cheesecake Brownies
Makes 1 9X9 inch pan
Adapted from David Lebovitz

6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces (115g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (70g) flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (80g) chocolate chips

8 ounces (200g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
5 tablespoons (75g) sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Line a 9-inch (23cm) or 8-inch (20cm) square pan with foil, making sure it goes up all four sides. Use two sheets if necessary. Mist with non-stick spray or grease lightly.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180C).

3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and beat in the 1/2 cup sugar, then the eggs.

4. Mix in the flour, cocoa powder and salt, then the vanilla and chocolate chips. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.

5. In a separate bowl, beat together the cream cheese, the yolk, 5 tablespoons (75g) of sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

6. Distribute the cream cheese mixture in eight dollops across the top of the brownie mixture, then take a dull knife or spatula and swirl the cream cheese mixture with the chocolate batter.