foodie fridays: spicy chocolate brownies

Valentine’s Day.

We all know that Valentine’s Day is a day for the exchange of tokens of affection.

You’re supposed to write sweet poetic love notes, buy dozens of red roses and chocolates to express your undying love.

All of this is fantastic and great, but why not spice things up this year? You know, get off the traditional Hallmark card path and make something truly from scratch.

{and….begin Valentine’s Day brownie pitch}

For those of you that don’t know, I am a complete romantic, but not in the romantic trashy novel way. I am more of a tangible romantic. I love leaving Mr. B little love notes in his computer bag, surprising him with little gifts, and randomly texting him throughout the day letting him know that he is loved. If I expected a guy to burst through the doors with long, blond hair and washboard abs, and carry me off into the sunset, things could get ugly.

Anyways, every year Mr. B and I always ask each other a couple of weeks before Valentine’s Day if we are doing gifts. The answer is usually no, but we make sure to find out the other spouse’s expectations. We’re just so darn thoughtful.

We usually give each other cards with sweet sayings and then go out to a nice dinner. The typical Valentine’s Day routine. Even though we conform to the Russell Stovers/Hallmark marketing dream, I always have this nagging feeling to create something from scratch.

Thus the spicy chocolate brownie was born. I wanted to give something to Mr. B that didn’t come from a box or require putting it into water.  Really, I wanted to spice things up (wink, wink).

The star ingredient behind these brownies is chili powder. Oh yes, chili powder. It gives the brownies a spicy kick without becoming overpowering. Combine that with the cinnamon and cocoa powder and you have one powerful chocolate brownie.

So what do you say?

Skip the cards, candies, flowers and make these brownies for someone on Valentine’s Day. Who knows, maybe he or she will carry you off into the sunset.

Spicy Chocolate Brownies with Chocolate Hearts

Serves 8

Prep Time: 50 minutes with chill time
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:
for the brownies:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
for the chocolate hearts:
chocolate shell ice cream topping

Directions:
for the brownies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan. In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, chile powder, cinnamon, and salt; gradually stir into the egg mixture until well blended. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the brownie begins to pull away from edges of pan. Let cool on wire rack before cutting into squares or circles. Serve with vanilla ice cream and chocolate heart.

for the chocolate hearts:
Cover baking sheet with parchment paper. Place in freezer for at least 30 minutes to chill. Holding heart shaped cookie cutter down, pout a very thin layer of the chocolate shell ice cream topping into form. Hold for 5 seconds to set. Working quickly, repeat to make as many hearts as desired. Place in freezer until ready to serve.