Spice School: You Can Put WHAT in Brownies?

Brooke Newberry
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The secret to good brownies is that there really are no bad brownies, just categories of awesome and more awesome. Whether your favorite brownie recipe is Katharine Hepburn’s recipe, Nick’s Supernatural brownies, or just the good ole Baker’s One Bowl – your precious recipe is really just a batter base to experiment with flavor combinations and add-ins. The trick to using unusual spices or ingredients in baked goods is restraint – a little goes a long way. Let spices lay low and mingle in the background – they’ll provide more palate intrigue and will be more satisfying as a hint rather than as a main component.

Sure, spike that batter with some chili powder. But which chili? Inspired by our visit to East Los Angeles’ Spice Station (read the whole story here), we decided to explore adding sweet heat to brownie batters. Introduced to us was urfa biber, a deep, smoky and sultry sundried pepper found in the Urfa region of Turkey. Urfa biber infuses a complex and subtle heat ideal for flavor development in brownie batters. The pepper’s warm, raisin-like nuances also complement recipes that implement a fruity element: think liqueurs, dried fruits, or pomegranate and raspberry. Basically, the Turkish pepper provides the perfect lingering background heat for the cocoa to balance on.

Blackish-red in color with a high moisture content, it somewhat resembles coffee grounds. The fragrance is intensely sweet and fruity with a slight hint of smoke.  The spice is mild enough to taste and enjoy right out of its apportioned spice bag. Keep urfa in a tightly sealed, dark container away from light and heat, and the spice should last for eight months.

Make a batch of your favorite brownies, toss in some urfa biber, and experiment with the spices below in home batters. Pick one or mix and match two of the below, but stick to a limit of three teaspoons total of the combined spices.

Brownie Points – Mix and Match:

Cinnamon: classic warmth on chocolate.

Chili Powder: we vote urfa biber, of course.  Try our Urfa Belieber Brownie recipe.

Cardamom: try with ultra dark chocolate or a batter that pairs chocolate and orange.

Smoked Paprika: smoked paprika’s refined bitterness kicks up a mild batter.

Chipotle: combine with coffee grounds or espresso powder and a few pinches lemon zest for a zesty, intense brownie.

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