Honey Cinnamon Brownies

March 28, 2010

 

Categories:
Cakes, Dough & Desserts, Fall, Recipes, Seasons, Spring, Summer, Winter


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Enough with the vegetables. As excited as the smell of roasting cauliflower makes me, there’s nothing quite as nice as the scent of dough rising—especially when I know each bite will yield a few hunks of chocolate. I had been mulling over some ideas on how to make a more interesting brownie, when last Friday a colleague brought a peppermint-infused batch to work. They were good: so good, that I wondered if I ought to just realize my dream of lacing a batch with peppermint bark and peppermint oil. But, I’d already committed to leaving those for Christmas. As if sensing my existential crisis, Sharon let me take her last few squares home, which did little to calm me. Instead, I realized how quickly they would be devoured, and vowed to make a new batch… just as soon as inspiration made it possible.

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It came to me sooner than I anticipated, and in an unexpected place—over a cheese omelet the very next morning. Well, actually, it came to me while waiting for my omelet and sipping cinnamon-infused coffee, a tradition that has come to Houston by way of Texas. Since I had planned on baking my brownies with some espresso powder, I was thrilled about the potential for these subtle and complementary flavors.

And then I went a little crazy. I got home and wondered what other warm, sweet ingredients I could put in, hoping to coax out more flavor than a cup of white sugar ever would. And so these were born, imagined at first, and then actualized, into what became one of my all time favorite chocolate concoctions: deep, subtle and earthy, but decadent enough to satisfy even my greedy sweet tooth—I mean really, who needs two batches of brownies on hand? But once I was on the brownie train, a few leftovers were insufficient—a tease, even. The timing was perfect: I picked away the final peppermint crumbs while melting my own dark chocolate in a double boiler.

chocolateegg

Happily, I’ve had my fill of brownies, with not a tinge of guilt. These were created, first and foremost, as a birthday gift for a dear pal, a fellow chocolate enthusiast. The wealth was spread around town and led to a serious bout of inspiration: thank you to my co-teacher Mark Wilson (formerly a professional pastry chef Houston’s glamorous hotel Zaza) for suggesting the pairing of whipped cream and blackberries. All along, I’d just been dusting mine with cinnamon and powdered sugar and garnishing with a scoop of Bluebell vanilla. I would never have thought of adding yet another layer of flavor to this unconventional confection, but I’ll be darned, Mr. Wilson is truly an inspired eater.

When the time is right, I’ll try these with some ripe blackberries, although I suspect the whole fruit, cream and chocolate affair would be much enhanced by a bit of berry maceration. I know it sounds like there’s a lot going on here, but truly, the commingling of sweet, warm sugars and spices gives me that soul-warming comfort that few things can.

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Honey Cinnamon Brownies

Makes 9 brownies
½ Lb (1 8oz stick) unsalted butter
2 ¼ c semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 eggs
1 ½ T instant espresso granules
1 T vanilla extract
1 c honey
½ c all purpose flour, plus 2 T, set aside
½ T baking powder
1 ½ T ground cinnamon
1 t salt

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Preheat the oven to 350, grease a 6 x 9  cake pan.

Melt the butter in a double boiler with 1 c of the semi-sweet chocolate chips.

In a small bowl, toss 1 ¼ c chips plus 2 T flour until chips are coated.

When the chocolate and butter have melted, remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, gently mix the eggs, espresso granules, vanilla and honey.

Pour melted chocolate mixture into egg mixture and cool further.

In a small bowl, sift together the remaining flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Add the flour to the chocolate mixture and fold until incorporated.

Add the remaining chocolate chips and fold gently.

Pour batter into pan and bake 20 minutes.

Turn the pan and bake another 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream and macerated blueberries, or sprinkle with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

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