Burn Baby, Burn

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Three kinds of chips and a medley of spices make these very flavorful!

Three kinds of chips and a medley of spices make these very flavorful!

I want to preface this post with the statement: You should really turn your oven on when you want to bake something.  That being said, I’m having my very own version of The Taste this evening. Inspired by this recipe by Nigella Lawson and my own recipe for Mayan sipping chocolate, I decided to take matters into my own hands and experiment.  The resulting brownies were delicious, with just enough spicy heat to make them complex and interesting. If you don’t want yours as spicy, by all means omit the pepper or use Nigella’s version.

You might wonder why I’m baking brownies while I’ve been on this recent healthy food kick. Well, for starters, everyone deserves a treat once in a while and when that happens,  I say, “Go big or go home.”  Second, I’ve been experiencing a bit of the “burn” on the fitness side of things.  I’ve been taking barre classes at a local studio that just opened here called Roc the Barre and I have to say, it is one of the most challenging and effective workouts I have ever done in my life.  Since people have been asking me about it, I thought I would share a little bit of info.  I started taking the classes because I was interested in trying something new but also wanted something that would target my core without a high impact that could potentially irritate my back.  I was dealing with some intense sciatica throughout February. I’m not a yoga person (I wouldn’t rule it out, but it’s just never been style).  I’ve only taken a few barre classes so far and not only have I noticed a difference in how I feel, but my chiropractor noticed a significant improvement in my back today.  You don’t have to be a dancer because it’s not a dance class.  The movements are based on dance, but I’d describe it more like pilates-on-crack.  You are doing these tiny, controlled, isometric movements that target small muscle groups that ordinarily wouldn’t get that kind of attention.  You basically feel like your thighs, abs, and butt are on fire during the workout.  Shaking is considered normal because you are exhausting these muscles.  Am I sore afterward?  Yes, but not in a bad way – the post workout ache improves each time I do it.  The first day was the worst. If you are local to the Rochester area, definitely check it out and if you aren’t and have a studio or classes near you and are looking for a change of pace, I highly recommend it! I will keep you posted on my progress.

In the meantime, you can feel the burn in your own belly with these tasty brownies!

Lady Sensory’s ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ Brownie Bites

(Spicy Mexican Chocolate Brownies)

3 sticks plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter

12 oz high-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

6 eggs

1 3/4 cups vanilla sugar

2 tsp pure vanilla extract (increase to 1 tbsp if you don’t have vanilla sugar handy)

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground Saigon cinnamon

1/4 tsp chipotle pepper flakes

1/4 tsp ancho chili powder

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground allspice

Zest of one orange

1/3 cup white chocolate chips

1/3 cup bittersweet (or dark) chocolate chips

1/3 cup cinnamon chips

Delicious little one-inch squares of brownie goodness

Delicious little one-inch squares of brownie goodness

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a 13″ x 9″ pan with parchment & spray lightly with cooking spray (or grease with butter). Heat the butter and chocolate over low heat or in a double boiler until just melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. In a bowl whisk the flour, salt, orange zest, and dry spices until combined.  In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract.  Begin to incorporate the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, a little at a time, until well combined (add in small increments so the eggs don’t coagulate from the warm chocolate). Begin adding the flour mixture in small increments until incorporated, and then fold in the white, dark, and cinnamon chips.  Pour into the lined pan and bake for about 25 minutes, keeping an eye on the brownies toward the end to ensure they don’t overcook (stick a toothpick in the center and remove from oven when it comes clean). The top will bake slightly lighter and will look a little crinkled.  Cut into one-inch bite sized squares and make sure to share with friends so you don’t overdo it. These are more on the cakey side, but they have a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth quality.  These would be delicious served with your favorite ice cream and/or fresh berries. Mmmmmmm.

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