The Chocolate Fetish. A locally owned business that serves up the BEST truffles I've tasted. They've received national awards and accolades for creating truffles with unique flavor blends and their attention to detail. We discovered The Chocolate fetish shortly after moving here, and have since made plenty of excuses to stroll by their quaint downtown storefront. Many a date night, we have passed up luxurious looking restaurant desserts, in order the walk down to The Chocolate Fetish and select a truffle...or two. (They ship everywhere! www.chocolatefetish.com.)
My personal favorite is the the Ancient Pleasures Truffle in their "Ecstasy" line. (Don't the names make you want to place an order?) This is a fusion of dark chocolate and cayenne pepper. Apparently this combination originated in South America, long, long ago. It is evident in numerous Latin dishes...think mole' and cocoa-spice rubs for beef and pork.
Paying homage to an Asheville city treasure, I decided I would try to incorporate cayenne pepper into my favorite brownie recipe. Incredible...IN-CRED-I-BLE! The spicy heat plays so well with the deep smoky essence of chocolate. I also added instant coffee granules. I learned from The Barefoot Contessa, that adding a little instant coffee to chocolate baked items, intensifies the chocolate without overpowering it. Once I tried this, I've never looked back!
Let's talk more specifically about my original brownie recipe. Generally speaking, there are two types of brownie recipes; those that use cocoa powder as the chocolate base, and those that use melted chocolate. The cocoa sort generates a "cakier" brownie, while the melted chocolate version produces a denser, "fudgier" brownie. Personally, I like fudgy brownies--if I want chocolate cake, I'll make it! This is by far the more decedent of the two. NOT a low fat recipe; but worth every fat gram!
If you are planning to stay in and cook for a special loved one this Valentine's Day, this spicy little treat might be a good way to finish your meal and create some sparks! You might even give them a spicier name like "Red HOT Passion Brownies"...I'm getting carried away aren't I? I just like the idea that I might play a small part in spurring on some romance in your life! OXOXOX
Ancient Pleasures Brownies
3 sticks unsalted butter
12 oz. semisweet baking chocolate
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 Tb. vanilla
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tb. instant coffee granules
¾ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 Tb. Cocoa powder
1 Tb. powdered sugar
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 350*. Melt the butter and 12 oz. of chocolate together in the microwave or oven a double-boiler. Allow to cool.
Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla together. Then once the chocolate has cooled a little, whisk the eggs mixture and chocolate together.
Stir in the flour, salt, coffee granules and cayenne. Once the batter is well combined, add the chocolate chips. Grease a 9X13 inch baking dish. Pour the batter into the dish and bake for 35-40 minutes.
Test the brownies with a toothpick—if it’s mostly clean take them out! The brownies continue to cook a little as their cooling, but you don’t want them to be overcooked. Allow the brownies to cool completely. Cut into 12 large, 18 medium, or 24 small squares. Clean the knife with a paper towel in between cuts to insure the edges are smooth.
Mix 1 Tb. cocoa powder, 1 Tb. powdered sugar, and ½ tsp. of cayenne pepper together. Using a sifter or small sieve, dust the brownies while they are still in the pan.
Then carefully remove them with a spatula. Makes 12-24--depending on size!
*If you are sensitive to spicy food, just half the amount of cayenne.