Shrug Off Your Day With Brownies

Saturday, August 22, 2009

-Brownies with Spices and Cocoa Nibs. A perfect way to forget what's bothering you.-

When a six year old child calls you a Nazi, it's proof that there is something dreadfully wrong with the world. I'm not sure what made me a Nazi exactly. I am blonde and blue eyed. I kissed a German boy once, but it was New Years so that doesn't count. Then there's the fact that he was, you know, a boy.

I wasn't sure what to think of it really. I suppose one thought that crossed my mind was, "He's small enough. I could stomp the little gremlin into paste before he knew what hit him." I was compassionate enough to let him live, and by compassionate I mean I like my job and don't want to be fired.

I was actually a little bit pissed off. More so, I was confused. The reason for the verbal abuse was that the office I work at was out of cups for the water cooler. I just happened to be this travesty's messenger. Apparently the lack of a Dixie cup is a grave offense to children these days.

I went back to my desk, more than a bit irked. Really, I was already having a bad enough day, the last thing I needed was some action figure obsessed punk hurling insults at me over trivial things. Then I realized how silly my being pissed over the matter really was. He was a kid who didn't know better, and I doubt had any real grasp about what he was saying. I've certainly been called worse in my life. In the grand schemes of things this fell between mopping my kitchen floor and deciding if I wanted to get up and have Sunday breakfast or sleep in until Sunday lunch.

I could sit there and stew, churning in my own bile and frustration, or I could simply just shrug it off and let go. Over the years I've learned my best tool for shrugging is to go and bake something. A simple truffle to get over any trifle, and what is it about cookies that can make any problem seem so insignificant?

So I went home, got out some chocolate and shrugged off the day. I was going to make brownies.

Spiced Brownies with Cocoa Nibs
This recipe is inspired by Alice Medrich. This brownie is very moist, somewhere between a mousse, fudge, and cake. The spices added give it a nice bit of warmth. The cocoa nibs and cocoa powder add contrasting textures and flavors of chocolate. I highly suggest pairing with a bit of mint ice cream.

8 ounces of 70% cacao chocolate
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
1/2 teaspoon of ground ancho chili powder (optional)
3 eggs
1 cup of sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
1/4 cup of cocoa nibs

1. Preheat over to 350F and line a springform pan with parchment paper (a simple 8 or 9 inch square or circle pan will be just fine). Lightly grease and dust the parchment lined pan with butter and flour.

2. Place chocolate, butter, cinnamon and chili powder over simmering water. Stir together and until melted, smooth, and warm.

3. In another bowl place eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla together and whisk on high speed for 2 minutes. It should be thick and and light colored.

4. Add the warm chocolate to the egg mixture and whisk together.

5. Fold in the flour and cocoa powder.

6. Scrape the batter into the lined pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

7. Allow to cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack. Remove springform rim. Dust with cocoa powder and serve. Great with whipped cream, mint ice cream, or chilled cream poured over it.

-Go ahead. Lick the screen. I won't tell anyone.-


  1. I'm glad the brownies made you feel better- (what a little shit).

    I love a spiced up brownie, and a moist one is preferable too. Delicious post.

  2. I'm speechless about the little kid calling you that.

    Meanwhile - the pictures made me drool. Those look so incredible.

  3. Don't take it personally. He would have said the exact same thing to anybody else (and probably has), that happened to be giving him bad news.

    If you see him again, don't give him any brownies!

  4. I just want to know how the kid knew the word. But you're right- he didn't know any better I'm sure.

    I really just might lick the screen. It looks and sounds I've been doing the South Beach diet/lifestyle change so I definitely haven't eaten anything like that recently...

  5. I'm licking the said you wouldn't tell.

  6. I'm surprised that a six year old even knows what a Nazi is (or is familiar with the phrase as an insult).
    Glad the brownies made you feel better --- they look fabulous!

  7. OK people, I'm going in...I'm going to start making Garret's Vanilla Bean Tapioca from a few posts ago. It will be the first time in months I have reason to separate an egg, hope I remember how. I'll report results later.

  8. looks pretty good! I will defintely lick it clean! lol!

  9. oh how i understand. i am a teacher and the new year has just begun. not yet called a nazi, though when i (gasp) suggest the kids do some work, the insult slinging begins...
    brownies are definitely a must for tonight. and maybe cookies...
    (just thinking of the chile powder in these brownies is lifting my spirits already!)

  10. You know Garrett, I think this may be my favorite recipe you've posted so far. Really, really great.

  11. How sad that the kid was smart enough to be hurtful, yet entirely ignorant of what he was actually saying. The scariest part is that he is going to grow up some day ... let's cross our fingers that some parenting intercedes.

    Most importantly, you chose chocolate to soothe. Chocolate makes everything better. Thanks for the wonderful recipe. I'm off to bake!

  12. 70% dark... I knew there was a reason I liked you!

    Ignore small ignorant people and be happy you aren't related to that one. At least you aren't the one fumbling for excuses when the lack of parenting becomes obvious.

  13. Me again, I made the Vanilla Bean Tapioca. Perhaps I went wrong somewhere as it came out overly dense and almost sticky. But I am not discouraged. The hubby and I are trying to eat out as little as possible these days. So sometimes cooking becomes a chore. But thanks to some of your entries I got excited about trying some new items (lemongrass, vanilla beans) and regained some enthusiam.

    I'm also reading the Julie/Julia book right now and considering what she did the least I can do is get a tri tip in the oven ( I highly recommend the marinated ones from Trader Joe's) and make a salad and not complain about it.

    So thank you Garrett, your blog, and some other local food blogs have got me thinking and feeling adventurous. I may not make tapioca again but I love a good Panna Cotta and somewhere I bookmarked a recipe for Rose Petal Panna Cotta that I will be making as soon as I can get to Whole Foods to aquire the necessary Rose Water.


  14. Lili - Sorry to hear that! If it helps, I've scorched my tapioca and rice puddings more than once. It just takes some practice with puddings to learn what to look for.

    Props on cooking in more, I admit I am trying to do the same (work lunches out are becomming frequent). I find planning a weeks worth of meals was difficult at first, but eventually you can do it without thinking and cooking fast and easy meals throughout the week becomes super easy.

  15. I don't understand either. This weekend we were sitting by the pool and a 10 year old girl spit in our direction. Twice. Why? We were sitting there reading, innocently. Still can't figure it out. Oh well. Nothing like chocolate to cure angst...and a lot of other things. Wish I had your recipe that day. Will print it out now for the future. The photo is luscious.

  16. Kids these days...some kids are unbelievable.

    Great recipe. Great photos. Must make - soon.

  17. Loved the brownies. Read the post and ran home last night to make them. The chili powder/cinnamon combo worked wll. I used 60% chocolate - all I had on hand. Really,really good. Thanks!

  18. Brownies usually do make everything better.

  19. THESE LOOK DOWNRIGHT AMAZING - I can't wait to try them~

  20. these sound like the perfect antidote to my own workplace nightmares.

    at least your monster was a little kid who probably didn't know better. i got called a demanding cunt at my retail job the other day by a grown man because i asked him if he happened to have the 2 pennies for his $14.02 purchase.

    have i mentioned i need brownies?


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