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Recipe: These Mexican brownies have heat, but are still a treat

Don't like the spice? Take it out and you're no worse off, says Lindsay Guentzel.
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Have extra time on your hands? Looking for something to do to keep the kids occupied? These made-from-scratch brownies are the perfect time-waster for your family.

Here’s the thing: maybe spicy isn’t your thing. Maybe you see cayenne pepper and cringe. That’s totally fine. This recipe is flexible enough that you can take out the extra punch and still have ooey-gooey, perfectly baked chocolate brownies for your family to enjoy.

Personally, I love the heat. I’ve made these for tons of parties and am always asked for the recipe on my way out the door. A friend introduced me to the concept of Mexican brownies a few months back and I was floored by the combination: the richness of the chocolate, the chewiness of the brownie, followed by the warmth of the cayenne pepper. They were so perfect, I set out to recreate the recipe from scratch to fit my personal needs (i.e. gluten-free).

Unfortunately, when you cut gluten out of the recipe you can end up with dry, dense baked goods. That’s why I use water-soaked chia seeds in my gluten-free baking. It’s the natural binder you need for extra moisture and a little stretch in your gluten-free baked goods — which is what you are missing when you use gluten-free flour.

Let’s talk about gluten-free flour for a second. I typically use Bob’s Red Mill — because it is carried at the grocery store I shop at. Bob’s Red Mill does not contain xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is a food additive used as a thickener and many people use it as a gluten-like replacement in gluten-free baking. In fact, most gluten-free flour already has xanthan gum added to it.

A quick Google of xanthan gum told me the world is divided on its health benefits/risks and as someone who reads labels really carefully, I wanted to find a less controversial route to delicious brownies. Hence the chia seeds.

If you are not gluten-free, you can still make these brownies. Simply use regular flour and cut out the chia seeds/water combination (I’ve included both recipes below).

A trick I learned when making brownies is to allow them time to set in the fridge before baking. If you are short on time, you can easily skip this step but it is a game changer for brownies. Letting the chocolate cool and settle before baking makes the inside extra fudgy and gooey.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Directions

– In microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate and butter on HIGH for two minutes. Remove from microwave and stir until chocolate and butter are mixed thoroughly.

– Add sugar and mix well.

– In small bowl, gently beat eggs. Add to brownie batter and mix well.

– Add vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Mix well.

– Slowly add flour to brownie batter. Mix well.

– In prepared 11x7 pan, spread out batter evenly. Place in fridge for one to two hours before baking.

– Preheat oven to 350°. Bake for 30 minutes.

**Toothpick Test: Insert toothpick into the center of the brownies. It should come out with brownie crumbles on it. The brownies will continue to cook as they cool inside the warm pan and a perfectly clean toothpick means they will end up overdone.

Ingredients for Gluten-Free Brownies

  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour without xanthan gum (I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour)

Directions for Gluten-Free Brownies

– Start by preparing chia seeds. In small bowl, mix chia seeds and water. Set aside, – –stirring occasionally to help seeds absorb water.

– In microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate and butter on HIGH for two minutes. Remove from microwave and stir until chocolate and butter are mixed thoroughly.

– Add sugar and mix well.

– In small bowl, gently beat eggs. Add to brownie batter and mix well.

– Add vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Mix well.

– Slowly add flour to brownie batter, followed by the chia seeds. Mix well.

– In prepared 11x7 pan, spread out batter evenly. Place in fridge for one to two hours before baking.

– Preheat oven to 350°. Bake for 30 minutes.

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