Dark Cocoa & Cinnamon Brownies
I’m sure there are brownie perfectionists out there who think using cocoa powder is a sin, and I’m sure there are some who say cocoa powder is the best part of a brownie recipe, whether it be Dutch-processed or natural. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. I don’t think any one of them is “right”. Whereas I don’t think any one of them is “wrong”. When it comes to brownies, they just are. Like they say about pizza: bad is still good.
At work, we’ve started baking a new Mexican chocolate brownie for our clients. In fact, it premieres officially tomorrow. It’s a hint of cinnamon, a lot of dark chocolate chips, and a nice kick of cayenne at the end. Chocolate is my least favorite flavor, but I do find it hard to resist a brownie. I’m not sure why that is. I don’t often crave them – in fact, I almost never crave them – but put one in front of me and I’m in trouble. Luckily, because it isn’t my favorite, I can manage to eat just one, or half of one (depending on its size) and be completely satisfied, if not a little remorseful for consuming all that chocolate and sugar. I’ve been on the hunt for a perfect go-to recipe, as when I have guests coming over and I’m providing some sort of sustenance, I like to bake brownies. Everyone loves brownies.
A long time ago, I found a recipe in a magazine or a book – I honestly can’t recall which – that touted the brownie as the “perfect” one. I made it right after finding it and felt it was a bit ho-hum. Sort of stiff, lacked a lot of flavor, wasn’t smooth or creamy. Just sort of eh. But even a bad brownie is a good brownie, right? Right. This needed help though. [Sometimes, I’d really like to meet the people who taste test things and call it perfect or best or whatever other descriptive words you can think of used to tell you this is the one and only one you’ll ever need/want/crave. I feel like our taste buds would not agree on a lot of other ingredient combinations.]
I have worked on this recipe for some time, adding a bit of this, removing a tad of that, trying to make it not only idiot proof, but downright delicious to the last bite. What’s the point in making brownies if every other bite makes you regret your decision to indulge? Even if you’re cheating on your diet to have a scrumptious little tidbit of chocolatey goodness, you want to be able to convince yourself that those “wasted” calories were totally worth it.
I scribbled notes on the original recipe, which got lost fairly soon after finding it (pretty sure I tossed it by accident when we were moving), and having to build it back up with my changes has been a long process (mainly because I don’t attempt to make these every week; more like once every few months, if that). I’m about one or two steps away from it being my kind of perfect. A little more cinnamon might do it some justice, maybe some more vanilla, and I’m debating whether or not I attempt to substitute a super high quality chocolate in place of cocoa powder. I do like mine as they are and it makes it an even easier recipe, and I don’t always have said super high quality chocolate on hand, so…
…until the day I perfect it, I give you what I’ve worked on, which I’m incredibly happy with.
Dark Cocoa & Cinnamon Brownies
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa Special Dark
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease an 8″x8″ baking pan, glass or metal.
2. Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl and mix together with the sugar, vanilla, and eggs until creamy.
3. Combine the cocoa, flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder in a small, separate bowl, and incorporate into the wet mixture, beating well until combined. Batter should be relatively smooth with little-to-no lumps.
4. Pour into greased baking pan and spread evenly. Using anything larger than an 8″x8″ will yield very thin brownies. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.