When I think of brownies, I think of dense, fudge-y, chocolate "cake" with that thin layer on top. I love that thin layer on top. So in developing a recipe for a complex brownie, I made sure nothing would be on top. What is that thin layer? People call it a meringue layer: the proteins from the egg whites combining with the sugar and migrating to the top during the baking process. However, I have seen this with vegan brownie recipes I have made. Maybe in general, a film of protein and sugar forming on top. A syneresis as I would call it as a scientist. (A good example is the liquid whey that separates out on top of yogurt.)
I decided to go the Mexican spiced chocolate route, using cinnamon, chili powders, coffee, nuts, and seeds to add depth and complexity. But at first, I pondered, "How am I going to incorporate the seeds and nuts?" I know, make a crust. This will give a unique texture to the brownies without interfering with that special thin meringue layer and giving an emphasis on what I chose: marcona almonds and pepitas. The marcona almonds are skin-free and make it easier to work with. Given, the crust makes for more work and a double bake with crisping up the crust first, cooling, then adding in the brown batter. So. Worth. It. I bet you have never had a brown like this. My friends told me this is their new favorite. The ratio of these brownie were (roughly) 2 parts eggs : 4 parts sugar : 2 parts butter : 1 part cocoa powder : 0.6 parts flour.
Crust:50 grams marcona or any almonds
50 grams pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
25 grams brown sugar
25 grams butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of chipotle powder, cayenne
salt to tast
200 grams brown sugar
113 grams natural cocoa powder
30 grams GF oat flour
30 grams tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
2 teaspoons Nescafe instant coffee
2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla (if possible)
4 large eggs (200 grams), room temperature, mixed well
226 grams (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- In a processor, combine the almonds, pepitas, brown sugar, seasonings and pulse until coarse like gravel. Add in the melted butter and pulse again until completely incorporated.
- Turn out into brownie pan (8"x8") into a thin, 1/4", layer and pack well.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly golden brown.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, flours, seasonings (all the dry ingredients) and mix very thoroughly.
- Add in the eggs, butter, and vanilla all at once and mix with a wooden or silicone spoon until uniform.
- Pour the batter evenly and slowly onto the cooled almond and pepitas crust.
- Bake for about 35 minutes or until only a tiny amount of chocolate is visible when a toothpick is inserted and removed from the center.
- Cool on a rack and cut when mostly cooled. Store in a tightly-sealed container in the fridge.
This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish. This week we're focusing on brownies. On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast. Here’s the link to our Pinterest board: http://pinterest.com/foodnetwork/lets-pull-up-a-chair/. Here are other amazing brownie recipes to try out from our other friends:
Dishing with Divya: Beetroot Brownies
Creative Culinary: Chocolate Chip Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Brownies with Condensed Milk
Food for 7 Stages of Life: Easy Eggless Brownies Recipe
The Mom 100: Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Chocolate Brownie Pie (GF and Sugar Free)
Taste with the Eyes: Chili Chocolate Brownies with Gochugaru, Ginger, Sesame Seed, Olive Oil, Fleur de Sel
Swing Eats: Mexican Cocoa Brownies with an Almond & Pepitas Crust (gluten-free)
FN Dish: 10 Ways to Revolutionize Your Brownie Intake