Mexican Chocolate Brownies

This past Sunday was Cinco de Mayo, which in the US means that we have an excuse to eat a lot of Mexican food and drink margaritas. And since the day after Cinco de Mayo happened to be the monthly celebration of birthdays in my office, I thought that I'd use the holiday as inspiration for a couple of birthday treats. First up - Mexican chocolate brownies.

This is only the second time in my life that I've made brownies from scratch. It definitely won't be the last. Sure, it takes a little longer to melt the chocolate down, but you also get to control for things like chewy vs. cake-y and the level of sweetness, and the balance of flavors. (And if you have a stand mixer, the machine does most of the work anyway!) As written below, these spicy beauties pack three kinds of chocolate (but aren't super sweet), a little bit of heat (but not so much that your co-workers who prefer bland foods will have to miss out on the brownie fun), and are quite moist and chewy.

Mexican Chocolate Brownies (~16-20 brownies, depending on how generously you cut 'em)
1/2 c. butter (two sticks)
2 oz. unsweetened or bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped
2 T. cocoa powder
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 tsp. cayenne pepper (or rounded 1/4 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 c. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a square 8 x 8 baking pan.

2. Melt butter and chocolate together in the microwave, stirring frequently (I heated for 30 seconds, stirred, and repeated until ready to go). Stir in cocoa powder and set aside.

3. In large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla. If using a stand mixer, set to stir and pour in chocolate mixture.

4. Sift in flour, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt; stir until just combined.

5. Fold in chocolate chips and pour batter into prepared pan.

6. Bake at 350F for ~35 minutes, until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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