Mayan Brownies

So we learned toward the end of 2012 that when it comes to predicting the end of the world, we don’t need to be looking to the Mayans. And that’s a good thing. More time to enjoy that culture’s most excellent of contributions: cocoa combined with cinnamon and a touch of cayenne.

I’ve been adding cinnamon and cayenne pepper to brownies for years, even when using (perish the thought) a box mix. The result is a little edge that takes the basic brownie to a new dimension.  I’ve long struggled, though with trying to make a brownie from scratch, using cocoa — not chocolate chips or bakers chocolate — that was moist and chewy. I trust we can all agree that it’s just not right that a box mix can be better than what’s stirred up from scratch with love and real food. I think I hit upon it this week. The key: lots more cocoa than most recipes call for, and ground walnuts using a food processor or coffee grinder. The result: moist and chewy, not greasy, and quite tasty.


  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups raw sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unbleached flour
  • 3/4 cup ground walnuts


  • Preheat oven to 325 and line and 8″ x 8″ baking pan with foil. Coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Grind walnuts in a food processor or coffee grinder. It’s not necessary to completely pulverize the nuts. Walnut chunks are always welcome in brownies.
  • Melt butter and allow to cool slightly.
  • Sift  cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and salt. Combine sugar. Add butter is a steady stream, continuing to whisk.
  • Add eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly. Stir in ground nuts, followed by flour. Stir until just combined.
  • Pour batter into a prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top begins to crack.
  • Lift the cooked brownies out of the pan using the sides of the foil. Allow to cool slightly and cut into squares.


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