I remember once being overcome by the desire for brownies while innocently watching TV. I proclaimed my desire aloud: Gee, a brownie sure would be good right about now. Moments later Bill was banging around in the kitchen, pulling out chocolate and flour. He had to drive to the store for more sugar. But we were soon munching brownies in front of the TV. Such is the power of the brownie.

This month we’re participating in the Irish Foodies Cookalong. Very excited the chocolate theme provides a great excuse to make brownies.

There are two types of brownie people: those who like their brownies cakey, and those who prefer them fudgey. We like fudgey.

Several years ago Bill tried the Best Brownies recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and we agreed they deserved that title. Bill credits two aspects of this recipe for consistently producing excellent, fudgey brownies:

  • Mixing the eggs, vanilla, salt and sugar very well, for 8-10 minutes
  • Using no other leavening such as baking powder; all leavening come from the whipped eggs

We’re fans of Mexican flavors, so Bill likes to spice up his brownies with chile and cinnamon. He calls them Mole Brownies, after the amazing Mexican Mole sauce that includes chocolate and chiles among its twenty or so ingredients. He uses chile powder made from only ancho chiles, which is hard if not impossible to find in Ireland. Most chile powder is a mix of chiles and other seasoning that would be too savory in brownies. Adding two teaspoons of ancho powder to these brownies adds a fruity aspect with a lovely, mild afterburn. Mexican chocolate typically includes cinnamon, and we’re cinnamon nuts anyway, so Bill adds a quarter teaspoon.

The final alteration is to replace the walnuts with toasted pecans. Walnuts are great, but we’re Southerners and have a thing for pecans. The pecans in these brownies were part of our Christmas package from Bill’s mom in Alabama.

Baking with chocolate is an adjustment in Ireland. Most of our baking recipes call for unsweetened chocolate which is not common here. I just checked Darina Allen’s brownie recipe in Forgotten Skills; it calls for 275 grams of chocolate. Just chocolate. So I guess you pick the type of chocolate according to taste and play with the sugar proportion? Tell me how it’s done, Irish bakers! Chocolate in these brownies is six ounces (170 grams) of Ghirardelli unsweetened chocolate. An American chocolate the Irish can tolerate!

We’d never had a fan oven before moving to Ireland, and it’s been interesting learning how to bake with it. We learned pretty early that it is fabulous for warming up frozen pizza. But for this batch of brownies, Bill decided to leave the fan off and use bottom up heating. Twenty-five minutes at 190°C/375°F produces brownies that still look a bit wet on top, but are ready to come out.

And so, here they are, The Best Mole Brownies. They turned out beautiful with great marbling on top and edges that are chewy but not hard. Very chocolately. The chile powder and cinnamon affect the aroma, providing a great mini-breath of anticipation before you taste the chocolate. Then a little burn after. Love them!


Note: You can search for the recipe within the Fannie Farmer Cookbook at Amazon.com. The Best Brownie recipe is on page 628.

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5 Responses to Spice up a classic: Mole Brownies

  1. Dad Lamb says:

    You had to be a brownie person condidering your Mother’s addiction. She ate a lot of brownies while you were forming.

  2. Oh! Yummy!!!! I make brownies often for my Sunday school class but never any like this. 🙂 Chef Bill you are something else. 🙂

  3. lisa says:

    I forgot about the no unsweetened chocolate there, and the oven sounds scary to me. I’d have no idea how to work with it! I just read about several varieties of brownies in Alice Medrich’s new book. She likes to recommend adding spices to the top after they’re baked for a different flavor experience. She says you smell the spice on top of the brownie right way, and the flavor is more distinct. And, you can flavor half the batch one way and the other half another way. Haven’t tried it yet though. The ancho sounds lovely in these!

    • Sharon says:

      Hey Lisa! Interesting tip about adding spices after baking. That would kick up the flavor for sure.

    • Bill says:

      It took me awhile to get used to the oven. It’s great for some things but baking has taken a lot of trial and error. I love the idea of adding the spices to the top. Must try that soon.

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