Like some heat with your sweet? Try Mexican-spiced brownies


Mexican hot chocolate is a beloved beverage made from chocolate (no surprise there) combined with cinnamon and another spice or two to bring up the heat. The combination of spicy and chocolate just plain works, and I wanted to see how it would translate into another beloved treat, the good old American brownie. Again, it just plain worked.

These brownies are on the fudgier side, which I happen to love. The kick from the spices — cayenne, cinnamon and ancho chili powder — is at first subtle, then more pronounced, then fades. All of which means, of course, that you must go back and have another bite. And another.

Don’t be tempted to substitute regular chili powder or chili spice blend. These spice mixes have additional spices in them they may work wonderfully in a beefy chili, but won’t bring anything to the party here, and will in fact confuse things. Buy pure ancho chili powder for this recipe, which is made from the ancho pepper. It has a mild, slightly smoky and somewhat fruity flavor. And be sure to keep it on hand to use for spicing up all kinds of Mexican dishes.

It is no accident that this recipe makes a large pan. Valentine’s Day may be meant for couples, but these brownies are meant for sharing.

MEXICAN CHOCOLATE CHIP BROWNIES

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Servings: 24

3 cups (18 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips, divided

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder

Heat the oven to 350 F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan with cooking spray.

In a medium saucepan over medium-low, melt 2 cups of the chocolate chips with the butter, stirring frequently. As soon as the mixture is smooth remove it from the heat. Stir in the sugar and vanilla, then beat in the eggs one at a time.

While the chocolate is melting, in a medium bowl mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cayenne and ancho chili powder.

After beating the eggs into the chocolate mixture, stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted at the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into 24 squares.

Nutrition information per serving: 230 calories; 120 calories from fat (52 percent of total calories); 13 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 50 mg cholesterol; 115 mg sodium; 31 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 22 g sugar; 3 g protein.

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Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman/.

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