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Mar 31, 2008 05:20 PM

Mexican Brownie à la mode

So, I'm putting together a menu for a future dinner event. It may fall on Cinco de Mayo, or it may happen just whenever. (I really like to plan ahead.) The idea is to create American classics with a Mexican twist. I'll probably choose a shrimp recipe from one of Bayless' books, with a sauce to riff on the traditional shrimp cocktail as an app. Then I'll grill up some skirt that has been marinated in a salsa méxicana. One of the sides will be mashed sweet potatoes with chipotles. If the corn is looking good at the store, I may grill some up and slather it with chile powder, lime, pepper, butter and cotija. I'll figure out another side or two, but what I'm more concerned about is dessert.

To me, one of the most comforting and American of desserts is the brownie à la mode: a rich, warm chocolate brownie (neither too cakey nor too fudgey), a generous scoop of good vanilla ice cream, and a hot chocolate sauce poured on top, served immediately. My idea is to make it Mexican by adding cinnamon and extra vanilla to the brownie batter, use dulce de leche ice cream, and spice the "hot fudge" with Kahlua. But I need to sneak some chiles in there somewhere; Pasillas most likely.

My questions are: how much ground chile to use? Should I add it to the brownies, the sauce, or both? And would I by adding espresso powder to the brownies be using too many competing flavors? When I have made brownies, I've used Ina Garten's recipe for Outrageous Brownies and half it for a 9x13 pan.

Suggestions on which chile(s) to use to complement the flavors of the dessert would be appreciated as well. I really want to make a stand-out dessert, because I don't usually "do" sweets. Hopefully by planning so far in advance, I'll be able to test out and perfect the recipe. And gain ten pounds in the process.

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  1. This isn't really an answer to your question about chiles, but me, I'd use a cajeta made from goat's milk (Rick Bayless' recipe is here: instead of chocolate sauce, and probably vanilla ice cream instead of dulce de leche. Maybe cinnamon ice cream would be good, too!

    I had a great dessert once at a nicer Mexican restaurant which was a Mexican variation on a banana split--banana, cajeta, cinnamon, and scoops of coffee, and chocolate ice cream.

    Your dinner party sounds great to me in any case. Note to self: don't read things like this before you've eaten dinner.

    1. Hi,
      I looked up some recipes in The Practical Encyclopedia of Mexican Cooking by Jane Milton, and it mentioned ancho or guajillo chillies in mole sauce, which contains chocolate. You could give either one a try and see what works.

      1. I make Mexican chocolate cookies and to one whole batch of plain sugar cookies with 1/2 cup cocoa in them I add two shakes of cayenne, two of black pepper and four of cinnamon. I would say that you'd probably do well to make your brownies hot and your toppings cool. Personally I would skip the vanilla and espresso in the brownies, and let the chocolate and pepper really shine through. Dulce de leche sounds like it would be delicious, but just another idea would be to use cinnamon ice cream -- or you could put cinnamon schnapps into the chocolate sauce, that would help keep the flavors tight. Yum. Getting hungry... ;)

        1. Thanks for the feedback so far. After reading the recipe for cajeta, I think I will attempt that instead of a chocolate sauce. Of course, that would make the dulce de leche redundant, so perhaps vanilla ice cream dusted with cinnamon could take its place (not sure I can find cinnamon ice cream.) I think I might add Kahula (or Cinnamon Schnapps as Adrienne suggested) after the cajeta cooks down.

          Guajillos would probably be a good choice of chile. I've had a chocolate bar with guajillos and pasillas that was good, so a blend of those two might work well in the brownie batter.