Living in Texas, Christmas often makes me think of…Mexican food. Yep. Not ham. Not green bean casserole. Not sweet potato pie. Mexican food.
Growing up it was not unusual to go to a Christmas party and be served tamales. I know many people who opt for a Mexican feast on Christmas day, rather than ham, dressing, and all the fixin’s. And no, these people are not of hispanic descent!
It’s a regional thing. Mexican cuisine is a major contributor to the overall Texan culture. And this love of comforting Southwestern cuisine is what led me to Kakawa, an artisan chocolate house, this past August in Santa Fe. And while I was there I tasted and was entranced by the “Aztec Brownie,” which is a gluten free variety that included spices, chilies, and a combination of authentic Mesoamerican flours. I thought the combination of whole food ingredients they used was very creative and inspired me to make a variety of mine own!
Well let me tell you, there is something of a trick to making something really good with a just a few quality ingredients. Technique is key. And technique is the reason I’m posting this week’s 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies & Sweets edition so late. I kept failing on this! Then I realized it was my technique that was all wrong. So several trials, tribulations, and trips to the grocery store later, I finally have a really amazing recipe for you all.
What you get from this recipe is a dense, fudge-like, rich brownie that isn’t too ridiculously sweet, but leaves you with a lingering tickle of chile and spice on your tongue. No, it is not “hot” and it is gentle on even sensitive palettes. The combination of spice and heat work very well mixed with this deep chocolate. Just try it!
Inspired by Kakawa
Makes 8-12 brownies
4 ounces butter
8 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 ounces agave nectar
2 tsp vanilla
2 ounces almond milk
1.5 ounces almond meal/flour *
1 ounce blue corn meal
1/2 ounce quinoa flour **
1/2 ounce millet flour ***
1/2 ounce amaranth flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ancho chile powder ****
1/2 tsp ground arbol chile powder
4 tbsp cocoa nibs, divided (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
In a double-broiler (or a glass bowl sitting on top of a pot of simmering water), melt butter over medium heat. Once melted (don’t rush this), add the chocolate pieces and stir until just melted. Do NOT turn up the heat. Allow it to take as much time as it needs. Once melted, take the chocolate off the heat and add in the agave nectar, eggs, vanilla, and almond milk.
In a separate, medium sized bowl, combine the flours, cinnamon, allspice, and chile powders together and mix thoroughly.
Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients and stir well. Fold in half the cocoa nibs.
Pour the batter into a baking pan (11×7 or 10×10 may work best). Sprinkle the remaining cocoa nibs on top of the batter and lightly press them in. Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely. Then cut into 2-inch square servings.
Tastes amazing served with cold homemade almond milk.
* I like to make my own almond milk, and I repurpose the leftover grounds into almond meal/flour by dehydrating them in the oven for several hours at the lowest temp possible with the oven door ajar and quickly grinding them finer in a coffee grinder. Worked like a charm in this recipe!
** I grind quinoa in my coffee grinder, as I cannot find quinoa flour within an hour of my house. Plus, it’s cheaper.
*** You may use any combination of flours you have on hand, as long as you substitute one-for-one BY WEIGHT. The original Kakawa recipe contained mesquite flour, which I do not own, so I omitted it and used more of a different flour. I ground my quinoa, millet, and amaranth in my coffee grinder I dedicate exclusively to spices, grains, and chilies.
**** I’m sure somewhere you can find distinct “ancho chile powder,” but I actually buy dry ancho chilies, roast them a few minutes in a hot oven, pour out the seeds, and grind them in my coffee grinder. Same for arbol chilies. And for the love of all that is holy, do NOT use “chili powder!” That stuff has onions, garlic, and mystery ingredients in there that you do not want in your brownies!
Also, check out the other great recipes for this week’s blog hop!