One of the reasons I began this blog was to really get a message going, about how not only Asian influences are all around us in the arts, entertainment, food, but also how these influences are a change for good. If you’re still reading this paragraph, hopefully you’ll agree. But if you’re a tad skeptical, may I suggest you look no further than the Thai Chili Brownie and its yin-to-the-yang: an ice cold Cardamom milkshake.
I originally created this dessert duo as my entry for the Cathay Pacific Art of the Dessert contest. After looking through the numerous entries, I completely understand I have at best a slim chance of winning two business class tickets to Hong Kong, but the very thought of traveling transpacific in a flat-bed-cum-mega-entertainment-center was enough to spend most of my weekend plotting, scheming, and baking.
The result will be announced soon, but for now dear reader, I present to you a little Bangkok sizzle in your favorite comfort food. Just don’t forget to wash it down with the most fragrant milkshake around.
Thai Chili Brownie (adapted from Alice Medrich’s New Bittersweet Brownies)
Makes sixteen, 2-inch brownies
8 ounces 70% bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
1/8 teaspoon Thai chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (1.2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350˚F. Line bottom and sides of 8-inch square baking pan with foil.
2. Place chocolate, butter, Thai chili powder, and cinnamon in a heatproof bowl and set in wide skillet of almost-simmering water. Stir frequently until mixture is melted and smooth and quite warm. Remove from the pan and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla with a hand-held mixer on high speed until the eggs are thick and light colored, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the warm chocolate. Fold in the flour.
4. Scrape the batter into the lined pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack.
5. Invert the brownies on rack and peel off the foil. Turn right side up on cutting board and cut into sixteen 2-inch squares.
6. If you like, grate some nutmeg over the brownies to balance the bittersweet taste of the chocolate.
Cardamom Milkshake (makes 6, 1/2 cup servings)
1 pint (2 cups) vanilla ice cream
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1. Blend ice cream, coconut milk, vanilla and cardamom. Blend on high speed until a smooth consistency is formed.
2. Serve in half-cups, or glass shooters with the Thai chili brownie. Grate some pistachio nuts over the milk if desired.