Right, here we are. I'm a big fan of brownies, and while pretty much nothing beats a plain chocolate brownie, I think that these puppies right here have just become my number-one favorite chocolate sensation ever. Honestly, it's almost wrong how delicious these are. And it was entirely by accident!
I started with the best basic brownie recipe in the world: Wicked Easy Fudge Brownies from kingarthurflour.com. I use this recipe all of the time, though I do tend to tweak it a little. For some reason, the brownies usually turn out a bit too sticky, and they're nearly impossible to scrape out of your pan or peel off your foil (I line all of my baking pans with foil; it makes transportation and cleanup so much easier. Yes, I'm that lazy.). So I cut out a little bit of the oil, which seems to help.
This week, I ended up zesting an orange into the batter and adding in a bit of cinnamon. I also threw in a double handful of chocolate chips. I didn't want too many chips in there, though. Too much extra chocolate would have ruined the play between the orange, the cinnamon, and the moist, fudgy brownie. Too many chips would have made biting into the brownie a bit too much work, too. Brownies should be soft and moist and chewy with the occasional chunk of chocolate to provide texture contrast. If I wanted a mouthful of chocolate chips, I'd eat a mouthful of chocolate chips, thanks very much. Not that, you know, I have. o.o
Okay, I have. Frequently. What?!? Like you've never done it?
Anyway, these brownies turned out to be amazing. I was expecting them to be pretty good, but amazing? I may or may not have danced with glee in my kitchen when I "poison-tested" them. (That's what we call taste-testing in my family.) Even if you're not into orange and chocolate, I recommend giving these a try anyway. The cinnamon cuts through the sweetness of the orange and gives it a little bit of heat, particularly at the finish. And if you're not too keen on cinnamon and chocolate, you might still like these. The sweetness of the orange balances out the cinnamon beautifully. Just be careful that you don't use too much cinnamon or too much orange: chocolate is the primary flavor in brownies, and it should stay that way! Everything else is just a slight enhancement to bring out the richness of the chocolate.
Well, it is in my world, anyway...
Adapted Recipe for Orange Cinnamon Brownies:
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar (I ususally go 1 c brown and 1 c granulated)
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I like Hershey's best, actually)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup minus 1 Tbs vegetable oil
zest from one large orange (I like a slightly stronger, less sweet orange)
2 teaspoons juice from the orange
1/2 c cinnamon
2/3 c dark chocolate chips
1. Melt the butter in a large mixing bowl (I love my microwave! Don't you?). Dump in the rest of the ingredients and stir until the mixture is smooth.
2. Grease a 9 x 13-inch pan and spoon in the batter.
3. Bake the brownies in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they're just barely beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. I also use the knife test: one or two moist crumbs are okay, but anything more than that is TOO GOOEY. True story. If they're too gooey, you're never getting them all the way out of that pan!
4. Cool completely before cutting and serving.
5. Eat. Make orgasmic noises as you chew. YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO HELP YOURSELF. I guarantee it.