The current selection for the Cook the Books club is “The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo” by JG Haghenbeck. I was intrigued by the book’s focus on Mexican Day of the Dead recipes and exotic dishes like pumpkin tamales. There were so many mole’s – mole de olla (beef), mole tapatio/guadalajara style (pork), mole poblano (stuffed), green mole (tomatillos) – whew!
It was enticing to follow the main character through several reincarnations, any number of amorous encounters and a text laced with mystic sentiments. For me the most memorable phrase in the book was “have the courage to live because anyone can die”. This seemed to me to emphasize that death is incidental to life itself and shouldn’t be feared. When I researched the name of her book, I found out that the title of her book, “The Hierba Santa”, is taken from organic herbal infusions from Aztecs ancestors & native Mexican cultures, which is evident throughout the recipes in the book.
In the end though, being in the heat of August, I couldn’t bear to make a mole casserole although I have saved the author’s recipes for a colder season. Instead I decided to improvise, take this Mexican theme as an inspiration and go in another direction. Somewhere in the past, a friend had given me disks of dark, semi-sweet Mexican chocolate, some infused with cinnamon and some with chipotle peppers. I had been itching to use them. These I used in making Mexican brownies. My husband is a great chocolate fiend and not only were they were great but my husband loved them. Hope you like them too.
Mexican Chocolate Pecan Brownies
½ cup unsalted butter
1 3-oz disk Mexican chocolate, chopped
¼ cup unsweetened chocolate morsels
¼ cup white chocolate morsels for topping
1 cup mixed light brown sugar and granulated sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted, reserving some for topping
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and lightly flour an 8x8 pan then set aside. In a medium saucepan melt butter and chocolates over low heat, stirring constantly. Let cool. Stir sugar into the cooled chocolate mixture, then add lightly beaten eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Add the pecans. Spread into prepared pan and sprinkle with the pecan topping and white chocolate. Bake for 30 minutes and then let cool. Cut into squares. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.\