Sweet Tooth, Sweet Memory

Growing up, there was the food my mom made us for dinner every night, and then there was the food my dad was always eating in addition to that food. The list was odd and as follows: chopped liver on toast, banana protein shake, eggs and Mexican chocolate cake. It didn’t matter what time of day it was or whether we were about to eat a full meal – my dad always made room for his favorites.

If ten years ago you told me that one day these odd “treats” my dad ate would become sentimental cravings I’d long for, I would have told you that you were crazy. It’s very strange, but eating my dad’s favorite foods reminds me of him more than putting on his old sweater – something about the smells and tastes that bring me back to very specific moments in my childhood.

Today my craving manifested itself in Mexican chocolate cake, and I decided I would not be satisfied until I was eating it. My dad’s favorite Mexican chocolate cake came from a little Mexican shop in Chelsea, called Bright Food Kitchen. Sadly, Kitchen closed about 8 years ago, so now I am forced to create my own. Today, I decided to stray from the traditional route and instead, create a Mexican chocolate brownie. These brownies are dense, fudgy and crispy on the edges – and they have a wonderful kick!

Mexican Chocolate Brownies

Mexican Chocolate Brownies

Mexican Chocolate Brownies

Serving Size: 8-10

Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Difficulty: Easy – the hardest part is sharing!

Equipment:

–       a pot

–       2 large bowls

–       a whisk

–       a spatula

–       a 9” x 13” baking dish or something of a similar size (shape doesn’t really matter)

–       zester

Ingredients:

–       8 oz. bittersweet chocolate

–       2 sticks of butter, plus a slice for buttering the baking dish

–       2 cups sugar (trust me)

–       1 tsp vanilla extract

–       5 large eggs, room temperature

–       2/3 cup all purpose flour, plus 1 tbs for dusting baking dish

–       1/3 cup dutch process cocoa powder

–       2 tsp cinnamon

–       ½ tsp cayenne powder

–       ½ tsp salt

–       zest of one orange

Procedure:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In your pot, melt the chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring constantly. Once melted, transfer to one of the large bowls (the larger one if there is a size difference). Let the mixture cool down until luke warm, about 5 minutes. Do not put it in the fridge to cool, you don’t need it to be cold, but if you add the eggs while the chocolate is still too hot, they will scramble.

While the chocolate and butter mixture is cooling, in your other bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cayenne and salt together.

Butter and flour your baking dish. Make sure you have completely covered the inside of the dish in butter, then take your tablespoon of flour and move it, tapping the sides of the baking dish, until it is completely coated in a very thin layer of flour.

Once the chocolate has cooled down whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Then, whisk in the eggs, one at a time. The batter should now be smooth and glossy. In 3 batches, whisk in the dry ingredients until blended completely.  Mix in the orange zest.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, smoothing out the top with your spatula so it becomes an even layer. Place the baking dish on the middle rack of your oven and bake for 30 minutes. You can test for doneness by sticking a toothpick in the center of the brownies – if it pulls out clean, they’re done. If you don’t have any toothpicks (you should really buy some though, they are good to hand on hand) the brownies will be done when the top becomes matte, puffs up an inch or so and cracks in the center.

Let the brownies cool completely before you cut them…and enjoy!

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