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Mexican chocolate brownies topped with pine nuts

I first encountered this brownie while perusing Sunset Magazine many years ago. Alice Medrich’s brownie recipes from Seriously Bitter Sweet (2013) also provided helpful measurement tips. Furthermore, I added a nice, warming kick of chile powder—i.e., ground dried red chile peppers, not the spice mix containing additions of cumin and oregano.

Mexican chocolate brownies with pine nuts

For convenience, I mix the batter in the large sauce pan used for melting the butter and chocolate. This is a cakey brownie—not fudge-like, yet still moist. I admit I prefer chocolate truffles instead of fudgey brownies for that sort of chocolatey texture and intensity! (Aside: I have not tried this, but perhaps a fudgier version might result when reducing the flour (e.g., use 2 1/4 ounces instead), omitting the baking powder, and reducing the baking time (20 to 23ish minutes)—or, a combination of those alterations. Let me know how it turns out, if you try it!)

Notes on Mexican chocolates and sugars: I’ve tried out this recipe with a couple brands. I have used 2 disks of Ibarra, which is very sweet, so added only about 4 ounces of brown sugar. When I had used a less sweet brand, Moctezuma (which produces smaller disks, needing about 4 of them), I increased the brown sugar by about 1/2 an ounce. Moctezuma has several products of varying sugar levels; I especially like the bittersweet (amargo) and semisweet (semi-amargo) ones. Dark brown sugar such as molasses or Muscovado works nicely, but I’ve also played with substituting half of it with coconut sugar. Coconut sugar has a mildly salted caramel flavor that complements Mexican chocolate.


  • 2 5/8 ounces whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 6 1/4 to 6 1/2 ounces Mexican chocolate; see note above
  • 1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons rum; I use Bacardi Golden
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot red chile powder, such as an Indian or Mexican variety; cayenne is also fine—adjust to taste!
  • 4 ounces dark brown sugar; see note above
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 ounces (about 1/4 cup) raw pine nuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF degrees. Grease and line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil as a sling to ease removal after baking.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl; set aside.
  3. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter and both chocolates over low heat. Stir in the rum, and remove from the heat. Using a whisk, stir in the salt, cinnamon, chile powder, and brown sugar. Try to break apart any large lumps of sugar.
  4. Check the temperature of the chocolate mixture to make sure it isn’t higher than 115º to 120ºF, so the eggs won’t curdle. Add the eggs, one at a time, thoroughly whisking them.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture until the batter is smooth. Pour into the baking pan, then sprinkle pine nuts over the top.
  6. Place in the oven, lower the temperature to 325ºF. Bake 22 to 25 minutes; because I prefer a more cake-like texture, I bake for a longer period—when a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the pan; the center of the brownie will sink a little as it cools. Cool thoroughly on a rack before slicing and serving.

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