Friday, September 24, 2010

3 C's (chili, cayenne, cocoa) for the Colwin-Hepburn Brownie

Although I respectfully revised it in a 2007 blog post, I stand second to none in my admiration for Laurie Colwin's  version of Kathryn Hepburn's iconic from More Home Cooking. (pages 75-80)

Now inspired by a throw-away line about chili and chocolate in the first episode of Top Chef Desserts, I have made the Colwin-Hepburn brownie faster and easier, and with a kick for 2010.  It has one bowl and the three C's: chili, cayenne, and cocoa.

Note on pan size:  I use an 9-inch round which makes a very short (1/2 to 3/4") brownie.  Baked in a smaller round or square, the brownie will be taller.  Take your pick, decide on whether you like under-or-over-baked brownies, and check the oven after 30 minutes of baking. Use a toothpick or skewer to check for doneness. "Done" means that you see crumbs and not liquid gunk on the toothpick, and that the brownie is beginning to shrink from the sides of the pan.

A Brownie With Affection for Laurie, Kathryn and the Three C's

1 stick plus 2 T butter
6 T Penzey's Dutch Process or other high butter-fat cocoa
1 tsp Penzey's ancho or other red chili
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

1.  Preheat the oven to 325. Spray your pan.
2.  Use the microwave: In a medium bowl, melt the butter, cocoa, chili, and cayenne.  Stir after 20 seconds on high and continue in 10 second increments. Your goal is to melt not boil this mixture.
3.  Add the sugar. Mix well.  Do not be tempted to add the eggs before the sugar. If your butter mixture is too hot, you will have scrambled eggs.
4.  Add the eggs. Mix well.
5.  Add the flour and salt. Mix gently.
6.  Spread in the pan. Bake for 30 minutes and check it with a toothpick (as above) every five minutes after that. 

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