There is an ample supply of cocoa to be found in the country of Nicaragua. For this reason Cassie and I often bring brownies with us when we are invited to a meal or want to bring a treat to our students. People seem to greatly appreciate the brownies we bring and always ask us if they to can make them in their homes. Just last week, I taught a brownie lesson to one of our students. We do this quite often!
Cacao is a common ingredient in the Nicaraguan diet, but instead of eating it in the form of a delicious dessert, cacao is generally ground and mixed with either rice or corn and then made into a milk or water based drink. For this reason, the brownies we bring along with us are much appreciated and are always at the center of conversation.
Since coming to Nicaragua I have wanted to learn more about cocoa and what it is that I exactly can and need to do with it in order to produce an end product that I truly enjoy. I have purchased cocoa still in the pod and attempted to dry, roast, shell and grind the beans into powder as well as every step between that. Some of these attempts have been a success and some utter failures, but my interest continues.
Most recently, I have been buying dried and roasted beans, bringing them home, toasting them, shelling them and then grinding them. My final product is something like those packets of liquid unsweetened chocolate for baking that you can buy in your local super market. I have taken this product and fiddled with some recipes to come out with what I believe to be a great brownie recipe which you can make with unsweetened baking chocolate in either liquid or bar form. Enjoy and happy baking and if you have any thoughts, comments or suggestions please leave a comment.
- 8 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 1 1/2 sticks butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 5 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup flour
- Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
- Gently melt the chocolate and let it cool for about 10 minutes (or squeeze it out of the bags or shell and grand your fresh nibs).
- Cream the butter and sugar in a medium-sized bowl until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
- Stir in the vanilla.
- Stir constantly as you drizzle in the melted chocolate. After all the chocolate is in, beat well for a minute or two.
- Stir in flour and anything else (walnuts, chili, wasabi, ginger sea salt, chunks of caramel)
- Mix just enough to blend thoroughly.
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center come out clean.
- Cut into squares while still hot and cool. We usually put them in the fridge, but that is because Managua is just a little cooler than the oven.