Guatemalan Coffee Brownies with Walnuts

Coffee BrowniesCoffee and chocolate are definitely a no brainer! I mean, just think about Caffé Mochas! The rich, slightly acidic coffee plays well with the sweet hit of cocoa and sugar. For brownies, a full-bodied coffee from Indonesia or Guatemala would pair beautifully with dark chocolate brownies. These brownies call on cocoa, walnuts and ginger, used as a garnish to compliment a full flavoured Guatemalan coffee bean, like an Antigua Coffee would work great! This recipe will make 15 brownies.

Ingredients:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups sugar
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon (2 sticks minus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons finely ground Antigua coffee beans
½ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup walnut pieces
1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly brewed Antigua coffee
30 thin strips crystallized ginger

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9x2-inch metal pan with nonstick spray. Combine sugar, butter, cocoa, ground coffee, and salt in large metal bowl. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk until butter melts and ingredients are blended (texture will be grainy). Remove bowl from over water; cool mixture to lukewarm if necessary. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Sift flour over and fold in. Mix in walnuts.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake brownies until tester inserted into centre comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool brownies in pan.

Place chocolate chips in small bowl. Bring brewed coffee to simmer in small saucepan; pour over chips and stir until melted and smooth. Let ganache stand until cool and beginning to thicken, about 1 hour; spread evenly over brownies. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; let stand at room temperature.) Cut brownies into 15 squares. Top each with 2 ginger strips.

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo BarsFor the mint version of this dessert, add some mint extract and green food colouring to the middle layer. This recipe will make about 32 bars.

Ingredients:

Bottom Layer:
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup white sugar
⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs, beaten
3 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups flaked coconut
1 cup finely chopped almonds (optional)

Middle Layer:
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup plus 2 teaspoons heavy cream
¼ cup custard powder (if you can’t find this, use vanilla pudding mix)
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon mint extract (for mint flavoured option)
2-3 drops green food colouring (for mint flavoured option)

Top Layer:
8 (1 ounce) squares semisweet baking chocolate
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter

Directions:

For the bottom layer:
In the top of a double boiler, combine 1cup butter, white sugar and cocoa powder. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. In a small bowl, beat the 2 eggs until they are well combined. While constantly mixing, add a small amount of the cocoa mixture to the egg mixture so that the eggs can come up to temperature. Slowly add the egg mixture to the main cocoa mixture, until both are combined. Make sure to whisk the entire time so that the eggs do not cook and curdle. The mixture will thicken up, after about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove it from the heat and mix in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and almonds (if you like). Press into the bottom of an un-greased 9×13 inch pan.

For the middle layer:
Cream together 1 cup butter, heavy cream and custard powder (pudding mix), and if using, the mint extract and food colouring, until light and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Spread over the bottom layer in the pan. Chill to set.

For the top layer:
While the second layer is chilling, melt the semisweet chocolate and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter together in the microwave or over low heat. Spread over the chilled bars. Return to the refrigerator to let the chocolate set before cutting into squares.

Chocolate Chicken Mole

Chicken MoleYou may look at this list of ingredients and be a little shocked! Moles, meaning sauce, traditionally have at least 20 different ingredients on average and are a source of great pride. They usually involved several different types of peppers, dried fruits, nuts and a hint of chocolate. This version is a bit of a dumbed down one, as it only contains 12 (chicken and garnish not included)! If you don’t have a rotisserie chicken, you can poach or roast off the equivalent amount of chicken yourself.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ chipotle peppers with 1 ½ teaspoons adobo sauce from can (or more to taste), chopped
1 ½ cup raisins
1 (796ml) can of diced tomatoes
4 ½ tablespoons smooth peanut butter
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 teaspoons chili powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ¼ ounces unsweetened chocolate (or 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder)
1 ½ rotisserie chickens, meat removed and shredded (skin and bones discarded)
⅓ cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish
1 ½ teaspoon sesame seeds, for garnish
Zest of 1 orange, for garnish
Fresh cilantro, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced, for serving
Flour tortillas, for serving

Directions:

Place a pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion and garlic, stirring to soften for 5 minutes. Add the chipotle with adobo, raisins, and tomatoes, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Carefully pour the mixture into a blender. Add the peanut butter, broth, chili powder, and cinnamon. Puree the mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Return the mixture to the pot over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Add the shredded chicken and heat through.

Transfer the mole to a serving dish and garnish with peanuts, sesame seeds, and orange zest. Serve with cilantro, lime, avocado, and tortillas.

Chocolate Chicken Mole

Chicken MoleYou may look at this list of ingredients and be a little shocked! Moles, meaning sauce, traditionally have at least 20 different ingredients on average and are a source of great pride. They usually involved several different types of peppers, dried fruits, nuts and a hint of chocolate. This version is a bit of a dumbed down one, as it only contains 12 (chicken and garnish not included)! If you don’t have a rotisserie chicken, you can poach or roast off the equivalent amount of chicken yourself.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ chipotle peppers with 1 ½ teaspoons adobo sauce from can (or more to taste), chopped
1 ½ cup raisins
1 (796ml) can of diced tomatoes
4 ½ tablespoons smooth peanut butter
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 teaspoons chili powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ¼ ounces unsweetened chocolate (or 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder)
1 ½ rotisserie chickens, meat removed and shredded (skin and bones discarded)
⅓ cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish
1 ½ teaspoon sesame seeds, for garnish
Zest of 1 orange, for garnish
Fresh cilantro, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced, for serving
Flour tortillas, for serving

Directions:

Place a pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion and garlic, stirring to soften for 5 minutes. Add the chipotle with adobo, raisins, and tomatoes, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Carefully pour the mixture into a blender. Add the peanut butter, broth, chili powder, and cinnamon. Puree the mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Return the mixture to the pot over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Add the shredded chicken and heat through.

Transfer the mole to a serving dish and garnish with peanuts, sesame seeds, and orange zest. Serve with cilantro, lime, avocado, and tortillas.

Fajita Spice Mix

Fajita SeasoningA fajita is a term found in Tex-Mex cuisine, commonly referring to any grilled meat usually served as a taco on a flour or corn tortilla. The term originally referred to the cut of beef used in the dish which is known as skirt steak. Popular meats today also include chicken, pork, shrimp, and all cuts of beef. In restaurants, the meat is often cooked with onions and bell peppers. Popular condiments are shredded lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, cheese, and tomato. The northern Mexican variant of the dish name is Arrachera.

So I call this a Fajita seasoning mix, but it can be used with tacos, chilies or anything that you want to give a south western flair to. You will notice the addition of two ingredients that may seem a bit out of place. First, there is the cocoa powder; you won’t taste it in the finished product, but the subtle chocolate flavour helps round out the other spices and notes of the blend. The second it the starch. I add this to help thicken, ever so slightly, the sauce/gravy that is created when using this blend, especially in fajitas or tacos. When it comes time to using the blend, other than as a dry rub, I suggest adding 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice (more to taste), 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon water. This will give you the slight saucy consistency you want.

This recipe will make about a cup of spice mix.

Ingredients:

¼ cup chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon corn starch/potato starch/flour

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container. Can be kept for one to six months (depending on how airtight your container is).