We Should Cocoa #14: Aztec brownies

If I’m going to post today, I can’t really do so without briefly mentioning the rugby…  Although France lost, at least we (because I’m totally part of the French rugby team, didn’t you know?) completely blew apart the expectations of most of the rest of the world (well, the bits of the world that care about rugby) that we would play dreadfully and be completely annihilated by the All Blacks.  So hah!  And I’ll be honest, New Zealand deserved to win the World Cup anyway, particularly on home soil.  Now that I’ve got that totally knowledgeable commentary mini rant out the way, let’s talk about brownies.

More specifically, let’s talk about chilli brownies.  The wonderful combination of chocolate and chilli appears to have been somewhat overlooked recently.  Many people seem to be unaware of how perfectly these two flavours go together, which is odd, considering that this particular pairing has been around since the Aztecs or maybe even the Mayans – either way, it’s not exactly a new discovery.  Luckily though, Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog presented the perfect excuse for a foray into this flavour pairing by setting “chilli” as the special ingredient for October’s We Should Cocoa challenge.

It took me most of the month to decide what to actually make.  Cookies, cupcakes, macarons – the possibilities are endless.  In the end, I decided to make chilli brownies in order to use the chilli pepper that went into my chilli crème de cacao experiment, as well as to use some of the actual liqueur.  I had a little moment of inspiration whilst making the brownies, and threw in some cinnamon as well, so they morphed into Aztec brownies.  They also turned out lovely and fudgy, and the chilli flavour is subtle rather than in-your-face, but you can definitely taste it, so it is quite warming (which is always a bonus with winter approaching).  I couldn’t taste that there was alcohol in them, but that could just be me, and I haven’t been able to test these on anybody else to get a second opinion about that.  Either way, they’re still delicious and that’s what counts, right?

Aztec brownies

Makes 9-12 brownies
Adapted from The Craving Chronicles

These are fudgy in the middle, with a lovely warmth from the chilli peppers.  Obviously the strength of the chilli peppers will affect how chilli-y the brownies turn out.  If the chilli peppers that you’re using are very strong, you might wish to omit the chilli powder, depending on your tastes.  One of the chilli peppers that I used was the one that I used to infuse the chilli crème de cacao also used in the recipe.  If you don’t want to make up an entire batch of chilli crème de cacao, you could always just infuse the amount needed with one of the required chilli peppers, or just use normal dark crème de cacao and add a little more chilli powder to the dry ingredients.  These can be stored in an air-tight box for a few days (but they won’t last that long!).


2 chilli peppers
125g all-purpose flour
45g cocoa powder (at least 70%)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp chilli powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
60g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
55g unsalted butter
2 eggs
125g light brown sugar
80ml chilli crème de cacao (click for the recipe)
1 tsp vanilla extract

To decorate (optional):
Icing sugar
Ground cinnamon


1.  Pre-heat the oven to 175°C.  Line a 20 x 20 cm baking tin with baking paper.

2.  Slice the peppers in half and remove the seeds but keep the white filaments.  Finely chop the chilli peppers and set aside.

3.  In a heat-proof bowl, melt the chocolate and butter together over a pan of simmering water (make sure that the bottom of the bowl isn’t immersed in the water).  Remove from the heat as soon as they are melted together and set aside to cool slightly for about 5 mins.

4.  Meanwhile, sift the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, chilli powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl and mix well.

5.  Lightly beat the eggs together in a small bowl.  Slowly add about 3-4 tbsp of the melted chocolate to the eggs, beating constantly.  Once combined, stir the egg mixture into the remaining chocolate mixture.  Then add the sugar, chilli crème de cacao and vanilla essence and return the bowl to the simmering pan of water over a low heat.  Mix for a few mins until the sugar has melted.

6.  Fold the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined.  Pour the mixture into the lined baking tin and bake for 18-20 mins until a toothpick comes out almost clean (remember that the brownie will continue to cook slightly once it is removed from the oven and that it will also harden).  Allow the brownie to sit in the pan for about 10 mins before lifting out onto a cooling rack and sprinkle lightly with icing sugar and ground cinnamon (optional).  Eat warm or allow to cool.


PS – I’m well aware that my photos are a bit yellow-y.  Unfortunately, I’m not quite sure how to sort that out – my Photoshop skills are pretty limited.



Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

10 responses to “We Should Cocoa #14: Aztec brownies

  1. They look great, and I am pleased about the lack of nuts. I like nuts, but not really in brownies. Or anything baked really.

    • Mel

      Thanks! Nuts in brownies can be really pointless sometimes – I’ve had so many brownies that seem to contain nuts just for the sake of it, rather than to add to the flavour. And I really don’t think that nuts would go well in this recipe at all!

  2. Brilliant recipe. I’m bowled over by this a triple chilli Aztec brownie and I want one NOW. He he, how wonderful not to be able to test them on anyone else. I’m surprised with all that chilli in it, they weren’t too hot, but after my we should cocoa experience, nothing could be too hot. Thanks for participating and apologies for only just spotting your tweet.

    • Mel

      Thanks! I think the chilli peppers I used were quite mild, which is probably why they didn’t turn out too hot – or perhaps my tastebuds were on strike or something. I enjoyed the challenge, as always (chilli goes so well with chocolate!). Don’t worry about the tweet – I had some issues with WordPress when publishing my post, so I think the automatic tweet might have been posted at an awkward time.

  3. cécile from st andrews

    HI ! Concernant le “yellow” de ta photo, je te conseille ce site, mais en français ! (en général, le “yellow” peut être évité en prenant des photos à la lumière naturelle… ce qui peut être un peu tricky à Edinbourg !!)
    il est super utile et donne plein de conseils, tant pour l’éclairage et la lumière que le cadrage, les accesoires… je fais moins de photo culinaire que toi (vu que je n’ai pas de blog!) mais j’en fais quand même (pour un projet top secret^^) et j’ai trouvé ce site SUPER MEGA utile ^^

    • Mel

      Salut Cécile!! Merci beaucoup pour le site – ça m’a l’aire très utile!! D’habitude, j’essai de prendre mes photos à la lumière naturelle, mais quand je ne peu pas (donc pendant 3/4 de l’année en Ecosse!!) j’ai une “boîte à lumière”. Et mon appareil a aussi des settings pour les types de lumières differentes (ampoules fluorescentes, soleil (ha ha), etc.) et normalement ça marche assez bien.
      Mais pour ces photos j’ai du choisir le mauvais setting sans m’en rendre compte, donc je me demandais si c’était possible de rattraper une fois que les photos sont prises… Je suis sûre que ça peut ce faire avec Photoshop, mais je m’y connais pas trop!!
      Je suis très intriguée par ton projet top secret!! Tu écris un livre de cuisine peut-être?

      • cécile from st andrews

        Si mes souvenirs sont bons, Mnemac qui est un pro de photoshop me dit toujours que si la lumière est moche à la base, c’est très difficile à corriger… et ma frangine qui est photographe m’a dit la même chose !
        En tout cas, je sais que si tu as un réflex de marque Nikon, si tu prends tes photos en .NEF, qui est un format spécial nikon, tu as une marge de manœuvre beaucoup plus grande sur photoshop qu’avec du jpeg classique, notamment pour la lumière : )
        Car le format .NEF enregistre tout un tas de paramètre (que le jpeg “compresse”), notamment la balance des blancs et la température des couleurs…
        Et mon projet top secret… well… il est trop secret pour être dévoilé sur ton blog, même en français !

      • Mel

        Oui, en effect, il me semble avoir lu ça quelque part – que si la lumière n’est pas bonne pour commencer, c’est difficile à rattraper… J’ai un petit appareil Canon, donc il n’y a pas le format .NEF, mais c’est bon à savoir, quand il faudra que je le remplace!!
        Ton projet m’intrigue beaucoup!! J’espère que tu me diras bien quand ce n’est plus un secret!!

      • cécile from st andrews

        oui oui, je te dirai pour mon projet top secret, mais pour l’instant il est en mode “pause”, à cause du CAPES…^^
        et oui, le concours c’est mercredi et jeudi qui viennent… mais qu’est ce que je fais sur internent ?!!

      • Mel

        Euhhh… Oui, je pense que le CAPES c’est peut-être un tout petit peu plus important!! On dirais que tu as attraper la maladie de la “procrastination” (aucune idée du mot en français… Est-ce qu’il y en a un?) – c’était peut-être moi qui te l’a refiler… Oops. 😀 Bonne chance!!!

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