For two guys living on a fairly tiny budget, Ezra and his roommate have a pretty impressive tea and spice rack. No less because parts of it were inherited from my collection when I moved away from Montreal in October, including a bottle of ancho chili powder that I've only used once, in an attempt to make a spicy chocolate cake for a friend's birthday.
My friend Theo had a dinner party while I was in town, which was a wonderful affair - all the guests (there were six of us, but Ezra and I came as one) brought a bottle of wine and we spent the night chatting more about SSMU than is probably healthy. Either way, Theo prepared a delicious meal that started with a salad with an amazing dressing (which he didn't have the recipe for because he got it at a restaurant :( ) and an impressive lasagna that had 12 spicy Italian sausages in it.
Prior to all this, I received a text message five-and-a-half hours before the dinner was slated to start:
"You can bring dessert if you want"
Unlike his well-stocked spice and tea shelf, Ezra's baking pan shelf is a little more paltry - there was a roasting pan with a lid, a glass 9 x 13" pan, a slightly smaller foil pan, a baking sheet too large for his tiny gas oven, and two pizza pans kept below the oven that were covered in grease.
I scrolled through my Google reader for brownie and blondie recipes (because really, what else can you make in a rectangular pan?) but every time I come across a recipe that calls for espresso powder or baking squares, I can't help but run back to my basic brownie recipe, which gets all its chocolaty goodness from cocoa powder. Some of you might recognize it as the base for my cupbrowniecheesecakes.
To make things a little interesting, I decided to peruse the spice rack, adding in a bit of that smoky ancho chili powder, some cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg to the recipe.
Ezra pointed out that my brownies hadn't risen very much, and I blamed it on his finicky gas stove (I had it set at 350°, but it didn't seem want to go above 250°). Still the brownies turned out to be delicious, and I remembered the amount of spice I used, so I could make another batch for a potluck had in Ste-Anne (where McGill's Agricultural & Environmental Sciences campus is), except this time, I upped the amount of cocoa in hopes of making it more like dark chocolate than milk chocolate.
I watched the oven closely this time, setting it at 500°, only to find that now the oven went up to that temperature, so I had to leave the door wide open to allow it to quickly descend to 350°, and then slam the door shut to keep it from getting any colder. I later found out that my brownies probably weren't rising because even though I'd doubled the rest of the recipe, I'd forgotten to double the baking powder (Doh!)
Ezra and I travelled in style to the potluck, where it was great to see all my old friends. The potluck was *so good*; my friends are great cooks and there was a variety of dishes, including a thick potato soup, two rice-based dishes, a spicy bean dish, salad, pasta, and roasted vegetables. My brownies were also well-received, but overshadowed by my friend Annise's luscious chocolate cake, in which her and her boyfriend jokingly hid a hard-boiled egg (their plan was foiled when we decided to cut all the cake first before serving it, so the top of the slice came off, revealing the egg.)
Adapted from AllRecipes.com
Makes 1 9 x 13" pan (and halves well into a 8 x 8" pan)
- 250 mL (1 cup) butter
- 250 mL (1 cup) brown sugar
- 125 mL (½ cup) granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla extract
- 185 mL (¾ cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 250 mL (1 cup) all-purpose flour
- 2 mL (½ tsp) salt
- 2 mL (½ tsp) baking powder
- 6 mL (1¼ tsp) ancho chili powder
- 2 mL (½ tsp) cinnamon
- 1 mL (¼ tsp) nutmeg
Nutrition Info (per 3 × 3¼" slice): 313 calories, 16 g fat (11 g saturated), 111 mg cholesterol, 38 g carbohydrates (2 g fibre, 26 g sugar), 4 g protein, 258 mg sodium. A good source of vitamin A, folate, manganese and selenium.
- Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Grease and flour a 9 x 13" pan
- In a large saucepan, melt butter. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat in cocoa, flour, salt, baking powder, and spices.
- Pour/spread batter in prepared pan and bake for 25 - 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the brownies comes out clean.