I first tried the gorgeous travel-inspired chocolates of Cocoa Hernando at a Blogger’s Food Fest last year… I was intrigued by the Masala Chai-spiced chocolate (regular readers will know that I am addicted to Masala Chai – a kind of spiced tea which is hugely popular in India and elsewhere), and it was the first packet I reached for on my journey home. I was so impressed – the smooth and sweet milk chocolate is a perfect partner for the warming chai spices (which generally include cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper, but there are lots of regional variations).
As soon as I got home, I got in touch with Paul, who owns Cocoa Hernando, to ask for more samples (never miss a trick me!) to use in a recipe, and maybe a box for a giveaway. A year later, after Paul has been off on his travels (to get more chocolate inspiration I am sure – check out his Instagram account for fabulous pics), we’ve finally achieved our plan.
First up, here’s my recipe… after dithering about maybe ice-cream, or a spiced chocolate loaf cake, I settled on brownies, because I felt the richness of a brownie would carry the spice flavours really well… and they certainly do.
Chai-spiced gluten-free brownies
Even if you can’t get hold of some of the beautiful Cocoa Hernando chocolates (but do!), you can still add the spices to your brownie mix and include milk chocolate buttons, chunks or a broken up bar of milk chocolate. Feel free to vary the spice mix – ginger, nutmeg, star anise, coriander, chilli and allspice are all possibilities. But keep the quantities small, you can always add more next time round! This recipe is based on David Lebovitz’s, with a couple of tweaks. It is a great recipe and a great blog – I urge you go check it out.
- 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into very small pieces
- 85g salted butter
- 130g granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 10g cocoa powder
- 30g cornflour (I know – it doesn’t seem much, but that really says thirty)
- A small pinch each of cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger and ground cardamom and a twist of black pepper
- 1-2 tbsp milk, if needed
- 70g Masala chai spiced chocolate disks from Cocoa Hernando, broken up into thumbnail-sized pieces
- Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 9in square baking tin (you could use an 8in tin, but you will probably need about 5 minutes more cooking time) with baking parchment.
- Measure the dark chocolate and butter into a small saucepan. Put on the lowest possible heat, and melt, stirring gently all the time. If it is hard for you to get a low heat on your stove, then use a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Take off the heat as soon as the mixture is smooth.
- Leave the melted chocolate mixture for a moment or two to cool – and whilst you are waiting, sieve the cornflour and cocoa into a medium bowl. Stir the spices into this mix.
- Stir the sugar into the melted chocolate mixture. Then stir in the eggs, one at a time.
- Add the cornflour/cocoa/spice mix, stir gently at first, then beat vigorously for at least one minute until the mixture is very smooth. Brownie batter needs to be thick like treacle or a thick milkshake, but not so thick that it is difficult to beat at this stage. Feel free to add a tablespoon or 2 of milk if the mixture feels a bit too thick.
- Pour about 1/3 of the mixture into the tin and then scatter on 1/3 of the Masala Chai-spiced chocolate pieces. Then add a third more mix (it won’t really cover the first layer, but that doesn’t matter), and a third more of the chocolate pieces. Then repeat, finishing with the chocolate pieces on the top.
- Pop into the oven to bake, and set a timer to check after 20 minutes. Brownies should be just barely set in the middle of the baking tin when they are ready to come out of the oven. If the mix is still wet in the centre, bake for another couple of mins then check again. And remember – it’s always better to undercook rather than overcook a brownie, so if in doubt, take it out!
- Leave to cool in the tin for half an hour or so, and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- These brownies are very rich, so I generally cut into 16 pieces (and then eat two 😉 ) – but I leave that decision to you!
Bespoke Chocolate Giveaway!
I have chocolate for you…
- The winner will receive a box of chocolate discs (flavour of your choice) from Cocoa Hernando with a beautifully bespoke packaging with a personalised message too.
- To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post telling me your favourite chocolate bar or sweet of choice when you were kid. Mine was quite definitely Cadbury’s Old Jamaica (which I now learn was born in the same year as me – fate!).
- You can get extra chances to win if you follow Cocoa Hernando on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram, and LEAVE EXTRA COMMENTS to tell me.
- The giveaway will close on Tuesday at around 8pm, when I will do the draw and announce a winner.
- UK entrants only please.