Inspired by Rose Levy Beranbaum
The question: Can brownies be made with Mexican Ibarra chocolate, the chocolate used to make hot chocolate drinks? The answer: a decided yes! Brownies should be one of Mexico’s adopted desserts, right up there with national favorites flan and Tres Leches Cake, because of the ingredients which are grown in this country: chocolate, vanilla, even cane sugar.
Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe for Barcelona Brownies was my inspiration, but I substituted Ibarra chocolate for the bittersweet called for in Rose’s recipe. Because this chocolate is sweeter, I decreased the sugar in the recipe, added freshly ground cinnamon to remind the eater these are Mexican brownies, and I used Mexican crema (similar to France’s crème fraîche) in the ganache, which is also made with Ibarra chocolate. Note to self: next time, add Kahlua to the ganache for a greater mexicanismo effect.
Mexican Ibarra Chocolate Brownies
makes one 8″ square pan
- 1 cup (4 oz./114 grams) toasted walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
- 14 tablespoons (7 oz./198 grams) butter, room temperature
- 3 oz. (84 grams) Ibarra chocolate
- 9 tablespoons (1.8 oz./50 grams) Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa
- 1 cup (7 oz./200 grams) sugar
- 3 large eggs (5.25 oz./150 grams, without shells)
- 1 tablespoon (.5 oz./12 grams) vanilla
- 3 oz. (85 grams) cream cheese, room temperature, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup (2.6 oz./75 grams) flour, white or sifted whole wheat
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 oz. Ibarra chocolate
- 1/2 cup crema (available in Mexico), crème fraîche or heavy cream
Read the recipe through completely. Assemble all ingredients, weigh or measure. Toast nuts. (See toasting note at bottom of page.)
Pre-heat the oven to 325 deg. F. (163 C.). Line an 8″ square pan with foil, leaving extra foil extending on two sides to serve as “handles” to lift brownies out of pan. Butter foil and dust with cocoa powder or use baking spray.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler or in the micro-wave. (See note below.) There is no need to cut up chocolate, beyond cutting to the correct weight, as it melts quickly. When warm and melted, pour chocolate into the bowl of a standing mixer and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes to dissolve sugar in chocolate.
Sift flour, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon together in a small bowl.
Add eggs and vanilla to chocolate mixture and beat 15 seconds on medium speed. Add cream cheese and beat until small bits remain. The cream cheese does not need to be fully incorporated.
Add dry ingredients and mix only until flour is no longer visible. Do not over-beat. Stir in the toasted nuts by hand. Using a spatula, scrape batter into a baking pan and smooth top, making sure batter fills the corners of the baking pan. Bake until the middle of the brownie springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, about 25 minutes.
While brownies are baking, mix ganache: melt chocolate in top of double boiler or in micro-wave. Add room temperature crema, crème fraîche or cream and stir vigorously to melt sugar in chocolate.
When brownies are done, press a buttered wooden chopstick or dowel into the brownies to form holes. I used a wooden dowel which was just over 1/4″ in diameter — it made holes big enough to fill easily with ganache. Don’t press dowel all the way through to the bottom of the pan, only about 3/4 of the depth, otherwise the ganache will pool on the bottom of the pan.
When brownies have cooled for 30 minutes, fill a small zip-lock bag with ganache, cut off a tiny corner, and squeeze ganache into holes. The warmth of the brownies will cause the ganache to be absorbed and the holes can be filled again.
When the brownies have completely cooled, and the ganache is cool enough to hold its shape, pipe decorative ganache over each hole, concealing a tunnel of ganache beneath each one. Cut into 16 squares.
To make these brownies muy mexicano, add a teaspoon or two of ancho chile powder or cayenne powder. The amount to use depends on your personal chile toleration level.
I increased Rose’s recipe by 50%, as she used a “financier” silicone mold pan, and I used an 8″ square pan.
Nuts can be toasted in a micro-wave oven in increments of 30 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, for a total of 3-4 minutes.
Chocolate can be melted in a double boiler, or the micro-wave in increments of 30 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, for a total of 1 1/2 minutes.
Dutch-processed cocoa is not available in Mexico, so I used Hershey’s, which results in a lighter colored brownie that still has a pronounced chocolate flavor.
To learn more about cocoa powder, Dutched or natural, I recommend David Lebovitz’ recent post, Cocoa Powder FAQ.
If you are thinking about adding to your cookbook collection, Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, the source of the recipe for Barcelona Brownies, would make an excellent choice. Her desserts are over the top in deliciousness and sheer visual impact.
Update: I made Mexican Ibarra Chocolate Brownies again, this time filling all the little holes with Walnutella, my new walnut “panache” (I can’t call it ganache because it doesn’t contain cream). The walnut flavor of the brownie was enhanced, countering the dominant chocolate flavor of the Ibarra.