Midnight Diablo Brownies. It sounds like a Halloween recipe, doesn’t it?
But, Finn, it’s May! It’s Spring, the literal antithesis of Fall. Sunshine and pastels and blossoms and… baby animals.
Yes… but last fall I wasn’t a big fan of sweets. I didn’t crave fudgy brownies at 11pm. To be completely honest, last Halloween I’m pretty sure I fell asleep at 8pm after a long day of trying-not-to-vomit (first trimester glamour!).
But now, oh now I am all ABOUT brownies. For someone who has never been keen on chocolate, I dream in sugar. I fantasize about brownies, dense and moist and rich with flavour. I drool over the ice cream section of my local grocery store and- when I do indulge myself every so often- I will dig to get the Rolo/Skor/Cookie Dough pieces scattered throughout the tub.
I hide small bags of sour keys around my house, just in case I need a small sweet fix.
I buy fresh berries and eat the entire punnet in the parking lot; they don’t even make it home.
Last weekend, I made Greek Yogurt Cinnamon Roll Pancakes for breakfast… a wild experiment borne of my desperate desire for a tangy, cream-cheesy cinnamon roll- and my reluctance to leave the house to get one.
Pregnancy’s a funny thing, isn’t it?
I wonder, will I lose this sweet tooth in the next few weeks, when I am not-so-pregnant anymore? Will my tastebuds, if not my body, revert back to their pre-pregnancy state overnight? Will I ever start enjoying wine again?
These are all questions left to be answered but, in the interim- I bake.
A good brownie, in my opinion, should be fudgy. I have no time for light or bready brownies, just like I have no time for bagels that aren’t properly boiled and chewy (ie. ordinary bread with a hole in the middle). A proper brownie is moist and dense, with a soft, chocolatety crumb. It should stand up to being cut, but fall apart in your mouth. If it’s a really good brownie, it will transport you momentarily, causing a glitch in your circuit board. For a brief moment, the world dissolves and there is nothing but you and that sweet bite, as you let out an involuntary sigh of satisfaction.
It’s downright sexual. (There is a long-standing rivalry between sex and chocolate, with some people arguing that the latter is better than the former, or at the very least its equal. I have never found this to be the case, even with my sweetsy preggo cravings, but I imagine this is the closest I will ever get to understanding the pure, unbridled pleasure some people get from chocolate. To be honest, I’m rather jealous.)
To give these brownies an added element of sinfulness, I used both Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder, also known as alkalized cocoa powder, and some Black Cocoa Powder I picked up at my local spice store (Spicerie?), which is extra alkalized. Alkalized cocoa powder is washed with a potassium carbonate solution that neutralizes the cocoa’s acidity, resulting in a mellower, woodier taste, darker colour and richer flavour when baking. Extra alkalized, as the name suggests, takes this process to the next level and produces a dark, almost black cocoa powder with a unique off-sweet flavour.
Big fan of Oreos? Guess where they get their deep, dark colour from- black cocoa powder.
Black cocoa contains almost no fat, nor acidity, so it cannot be used as a straight 1-for-1 substitute for regular cocoa. Recipes containing black cocoa will need extra fat added, to prevent dry or crumbly baked goods, and will use baking powder as a leavening agent in place of baking soda. Most recipes will use some combination of dutch or natural cocoa alongside black cocoa, to get the best of both worlds.
Note: If you can’t track down black cocoa powder for this recipe, don’t worry! They won’t be as dark as the ones in the pictures, but they will still be delicious if you just use straight Dutch cocoa.
To top it all off, these brownies are infused- yes infused– with a hum of spice. No, these won’t punch you in the face with heat. I love hot sauce but even I don’t want a dessert covered in the stuff.
A hint of cinnamon, a touch of ginger, and a sprinkle of cayenne. That’s all it takes. It’s a hum of heat. An itty bitty bite that lingers on the tongue.
If you find you do like your sweets a little spicier, increase the cayenne to 3/4 of a teaspoon, however I encourage you to try the original proportions first- a little goes a long way. The chocolate should be elevated by the chili, not fighting with it.
|Midnight Diablo Brownies|| |
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 2 oz unsweetened dark chocolate
- ⅓ cup black cocoa powder
- ⅔ cup Dutch process cocoa powder
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325°. Line an 8-inch square baking tray with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
- Melt butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cocoa powders and sugar and mix until well blended- the mixture should resembles wet sand. Remove from heat.
- Add vanilla extract, milk and eggs and mix well until combined. Slowly add in the flour mixture, stirring until just combined.
- Scrape batter into prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes until the sides begin to pull away from the sides of the pan but the middle is still soft, making sure not to over bake.
- Let the brownies cool completely before removing from the pan and slicing into squares.