Mexican hot chocolate brownies – chewy v. cake-y

Mexican hot chocolate brownies

Here at the test kitchens of The Ordinary, we do the hard work so you don’t have to. I made two big trays of brownies in as many days, and then I forced my poor beleaguered family to try both and decide which they liked better. It was an arduous job, I tell you! Why did we do this? In an attempt to determine why some brownies turn out chewy, and some turn out cakey. And why some have that crackly, dried mud looking top, which is so oddly appealing.

These particular brownies were inspired by Mexican hot chocolate, that completely perfect combination of chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon. More than that – they contain Mexican hot chocolate. That’s right, we didn’t just add vanilla and cinnamon, we melted one of the hot chocolate tablets with the butter, and stirred it right into the brownies. And then we added vanilla and cinnamon! And then we ate them with cream whipped with vanilla and cinnamon! These smell so ridiculously good when you’re cooking them that it will make you dizzy.

The results of our fiendish experiments were inconclusive, because everybody liked all of them. However, we have gathered a small amount of data. If you use white sugar, you will get a crackly top. If you use brown sugar, you will have a smooth and placid surface. If you add two eggs, you will have a cake-y brownie. If you use only one egg, you will have a chewy fudgy brownie. If you want a cake-y brownie, you should add a bit more baking powder – 1/2 t. as opposed to 1/4. I can’t guarantee the scientific reliability of these facts. You might have to make several trays yourself, purely for the noble cause of verifying this experiment.

Brownies are incredibly easy to make, which is a good thing when you’re making tray after tray of them, day after day. You simply melt some butter, stir some stuff in, put them in a tray and cook them for a while. The Mexican hot chocolate tablet I used was made by chocolate Ibarra. It contains cocoa nibs, sugar and cinnamon. It melted quite nicely in a few tablespoons of water, and then mixed well with the melting butter. I think you could probably use any brand, but you may have to experiment to find out! Oh, and I should add that, in my book, brownies have to have chocolate chips in them. It’s required!

Here’s Chocolate Caliente by Mike Laure
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Savory vanilla sauce & roasted french fries

vanilla tarator sauce
The other night, during a bout of insomnia, I started thinking about vanilla, as one does. I love the scent and flavor of vanilla. (I have recurring dreams about vanilla essence, actually. Wonder what that means?) I think vanilla has been unfairly labeled as plain and pale – almost a non-flavor. In fact it’s wonderfully flavorful. I started to ponder the fact that, in my experience, vanilla is always used as a flavoring in sweet dishes. Why shouldn’t vanilla find its way into a savory dish? Other sweet staples, like cinnamon and chocolate have done it. Then I started thinking about fries and a vanilla milkshake. Such a perfect pairing. One hot, crispy and salty, and one cool and vanilla-y. That’s when I came up with the idea for this combination.

The sauce is a tarator sauce – it’s nut-based, and though it’s quite creamy, there’s no dairy in it at all. And the french fries are actually roasted in olive oil in the oven, but they become as crispy as you could hope for. Keep reading for recipes…

Roasted french fries

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