Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spices - {Mocha Cappuccino Brownies} + a contest!

Since I was a little one, and we’re talking back in the days that I had to climb up on the counter to reach various things in the kitchen, I remember being intrigued by the short and stubby plastic containers that my parents explained held something called, “spices.”

Maybe it’s because I wasn’t in the kitchen around dinnertime, but I have to admit: I don’t remember those bottles getting tipped into our meals very often. Maybe ever. Don’t hate me, Mom and Dad. I had good food as a kid, but, you know, it might not have been the most exciting stuff on the planet.

View this image in the McCormick Lookbook!

Not that that was a bad thing.

Oh boy. I’m digging myself a hole.

Regardless, there was one spice, among the sea of nearly identical red-labeled containers that I was actually familiar with, and that spice was cinnamon. I’ve got an absolutely pathetic sense of smell, but I could always recognize that scent in an instant. It smelled nice. Happy. Like Christmas.

Not that we used it specifically for Christmas baking. On the contrary, really. It seems that around the holidays, cinnamon’s vast uses are reduced to mulling in wine and dusting over pinecones. Both of which, you know, have their advantages (except maybe the pinecones), but neither are particularly interesting as a child. But what did interest me was my family’s year-round use of the spice. It always went into French toast, and it always left defiantly powdery footsteps around the top of the bowl. Cinnamon also went into Dad’s super-simple-four-ingredient baked cinnamon sugar bread, which contained, in addition to the ingredients listed in the title, a couple pats of butter for – what else - easier adherence of the cinnamon sugar mixture. For me, the spice promised a sweet treat and, to this day, it conjures up warm fuzzy homey feelings.

Surely I’m not alone.

So, when McCormick approached me about giving a couple of their recipes a test-drive, I was excited to find two that that featured cinnamon. I’m sharing one with you today, and a second in mid-April in a post that will also offer you the chance to win a super cool spring baking supply basket! But, you know, more on that later.

In the meantime, I encourage you to check out McCormick’s Pinterest page for an opportunity to win some spring-inspired prizes for sharing your “Pin-spiration” from their website. To enter their contest, they are asking users to do the following:

  • Follow McCormick on Pinterest
  • Create your own “McCormick Pin-spiration” board
  • Select five spring recipes from McCormick.com to pin on your board
  • Snap a photo of your own re-creation of one of the recipes
  • Don’t forget! Tag all of the pins on the board with the tag @McCormick Pin-spiration and include the name of the McCormick product used in the personal recipe photo
  • Email your completed board to mccormickpinterest@webershandwick.com
  • Pinners will be entered to win one of 25 spring baking kits, and will also have their original photos posted on the McCormick.com Look Book

Have a peek at my own McCormick Pin-spiration board for inspiration for your own.

McCormick spices - and no, this is not some editorial fakeness - were the ones that populated my parent’s cabinets when I was very young and the ones that I continue to buy for myself. Apart from a couple harder to find spices, like fenugreek, McCormick’s offerings fill my spice drawer with a variety of both sweet and savory options. They’re consistent, easy to find and fairly priced. What’s not to love?

One last thing before we part ways, dear readers: I hope you’ll recognize that I don’t do this kind of promotion with any regularity. Understand that I am completely honest in my support for McCormick and that I’m more than happy to share their recipes and products with you because I really and truly support the company and their efforts to spread the importance of keeping things spicy!

Mocha-Cappuccino Brownies via McCormick
These brownies are a lot less firm than any I've baked in the past, but they're tasty! Very, very rich, so a little goes a long way!

Printable Recipe

8 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped and divided
4 Tbsp butter
3/4 c granulated sugar, divided
3 eggs, at room temp
3/4 c flour
2/3 c heavy cream
1 Tbsp McCormick® Pure Coffee Extract
2 1/4 tsp McCormick® Cinnamon, Ground, divided
3 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar

Preheat your oven to 350F and oil and line an 8" square pan. Set aside.

Combine 2 ounces of the chocolate and all of the butter in a medium bowl. Microwave 1 1/2 minutes, or until butter is melted. Remove from the microwave and stir until completely smooth. Add 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar and 1 of the eggs, whisking to combine. Add flour and mix just until incorporated. Spread into the prepared pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, microwave the remaining 6 ounces of chocolate and all of the cream at 30 second intervals. Whisk frequently and cook until smooth; about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the coffee extract and 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, stirring until the chocolate is completely smooth.

In a large bowl, beat the remaining 2 eggs and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar with an electric mixer on high speed for 1 minute or until thick and lemon-colored. Add the chocolate mixture and mix well. Pour over the batter in the pan.

Bake 35 minutes or until topping is set. Cool in pan on wire rack. In the meantime, mix the confectioners’ sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon together and sprinkle over cooled brownies. Cut into squares.

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