Lean times


a treat for a cash-strapped era

Mexican Chocolate Brownies: a treat for a cash-strapped era

As if I needed more evidence of how times have changed, consider how I marked

Birmingham's Chef Frank Stitt is a god.

Birmingham's Chef Frank Stitt is a god.

a good friend’s birthday. Last year, I treated her to a lavish Champagne dinner created by Chef Frank Stitt of Bottega (and Highlands Bar & Grill and Chez Fon Fon)  fame in Birmingham, Ala., using spectacular selections from Champagnes Bruno Paillard. Bubbly and beef cheeks speak to richer times, at least for me. This year, it’s a different story. Cash-strapped, I opted to spoil her with homemade Mexican Chocolate Brownies and a pint of premium (I’m not that poor) dulce de leche ice cream. Here’s the recipe for the brownies (shown above):

Mexican Chocolate Brownies

Mexican chocolate is sweet, cinnamony, and nutty. The chile powder adds a touch of smoky heat, but you can omit it.

1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

6 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour (that’s about 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (optional)

1 1/3 cups sugar 6 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

2 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

2. Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, and add chocolate chips, stirring until they melt and the mixture is smooth.

3. Whisk together the flour through cinnamon in a large bowl. Add vanilla, almond extract, and eggs; beat with a mixer. Add flour mixture and chocolate mixture; beat just until combined. Spread batter (it’s thick) into prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Yield: 16 brownies.

One thought on “Lean times

  1. Oh, you just brought back a great memory for me. I decided to treat myself to a nice dinner by myself when I lived in Birmingham. I went to Chez Fon Fon, bellied up to the bar and had a glorious time.

    I love the simplicity of the hard-boiled eggs on just sitting on the counter, which go very well with a glass of bubbles.

    I then had one of the most delicious things I can remember. Chef Stitt’s beef cheeks are something everyone should have at least once in their lives. I can still taste that dish and it’s one of the things I do miss about Birmingham.

    Thanks for the memories!

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