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