Monday, November 28, 2011

Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies & a Book in the making!

Have you ever given your heart and soul into something? I mean seriously poured your blood, sweat and tears into a piece of art, a poem, a warm apple pie or Sunday dinner?

It takes a lot out of you, but it's satisfying. And if it gets appreciated then it's even that much more rewarding. If it goes unappreciated....then it can really take a toll on you. That person sucks.

I've given my heart and soul into this cookbook I'm writing. I've tested the recipes more times than I can count. I eat cupcakes for breakfast more mornings than I care to disclose, and I probably cry sugar syrup by now.

Rest assured that there's no actual blood, sweat or tears in these recipes (because that would be gross) but there is more love and consideration than you can imagine. There's also plenty of butter, sugar, chocolate and vanilla.

I've been busy baking, candy-making, testing and re-testing. I've been photographing, writing, editing, freaking out and panicking. I've been proud and thrilled when things turn out exceptionally and then completely annoyed and frustrated when things don't come out right the first time around.

That's the story of my life as a writer and (crazy) Food Scientist.

I've included over 100 super fun and insanely delicious recipes for you!

Some pretty mouth-watering things to look forward to are festive Gingerbread Truffles....

....over-the-top Devil's Food Cake...

...decadent Chocolate Brownies that I believe can save the world...

and fresh fruity pastries that feel like a warm food hug!

I have learned that patience and mistakes are a gift. Making mistakes has helped me to give you all the tips and advice you need to master my recipes. I've already screwed up, so that you can avoid it. I'm really nice like that.

Here is something special for's something a little different. Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies.

Cinnamon, cayenne pepper and cloves infused into dark chocolate brownie batter. Fudgey. Spicy. Delicious. This is something fun.

They're topped off with cocoa nibs. That's right - cocoa nibs. The pure essence of what chocolate is made of. Did you know I made a chocolate bar from these very cocoa nibs in my freshman year of University?

Yeah that's right. It was for my final project in my "Science & History of Chocolate Class". I ground up these nibs as finely as I could and mixed it with additional cocoa butter and vanilla extract. Then I spooned it into individual cups, filled them with caramel and an almond and called them "Jackpots". They were delicious.

PS - I aced that project.

PSS - My rockstar friend Ben made "Nudey Bars" in the shape of a women's top half. I believe they were flavoured with ginger. They were hilarious. They were tasty. He's on a PC (Loblaws) TV commercial. He's THAT cool.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies
Makes 16 brownies

4 oz unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
6 tbsp butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
pinch of ground cloves
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp raw cacao nibs for topping

Preheat oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center. Line an 8x8 inch square metal baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on each end.

Place chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl set over a pot with ½-inch of simmering water over medium-low heat. Whisk gently until completely melted, smooth and glossy. Turn off the heat but keep the bowl over the hot water and gently whisk in both sugars until evenly blended. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool for 3 minutes.  Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, mixing vigorously for about 10 seconds to incorporate each before adding the next. The batter should be smooth and shiny. Whisk in vanilla extract.

Add flour, spices and salt and use a rubber spatula to stir it in until blended and smooth.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly into the corners. Sprinkle cocoa nibs over top of the batter. Bake about 23-25 minutes. A skewer inserted into the center of the brownies should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it (do not overbake). Transfer to a rack and cool completely.
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