Sheet Pan

Alive and Kickin'! Spicy Deep Dark Brownies with Pecans and Candied Orange Peel

February 12, 2012
1 Ratings
  • Makes 50 -60 brownies
Author Notes

Alice Medrich (genuflect, genuflect) makes the only brownies I've ever adored. Maybe it's my age (having been a professional chef for 30 years) but I usually complain of brownies being too 'one note' in flavor. Plain chocolate just doesn't do it for me. In my adaptation of Alice's recipe from Bittersweet , I have included whole wheat flour, hot spices, candied orange peel and pecans. These brownies are dense and chewy with multiple layers of flavor- rich, piquant, nutty, tart,with pinpoints of hot. Alice is very particular with her pre-chilling, baking and cooling techniques, based on many experiments, which her book explains in detail. I follow those techniques and have included them in this recipe. Because every oven is different, it may take you one or two tries to get the baking time right for the results that are perfect for you.
These are 'wicked' rich , as we say in MA. So cut them small!
* The photo is of my Four- Way Brownies —LeBec Fin

What You'll Need
  • Brownies
  • 8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped finely (Caillebaut [=Trader Joe's; I use] and Valrhona are excellent; Nestle's is good; Baker's and Giardelli are not good)
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1- 1 1/2 * teaspoon black pepper,freshly ground, medium grind
  • 1-1 1/2 * teaspoon cayenne (test to make sure it is hot)
  • 4 large cold eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup white AP flour
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped candied clementine peel (see recipe)
  • Candied Clementine Peel
  • 5 pounds box of clementines(or oranges), peeled per directions below
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 9 cups water
  1. Brownies
  2. Melt butter and chocolate together.( I loosely cover them in a glass pyrex measuring cup and put them in a medium high Microwave for a few minutes at a time, stirring each time.) When melted, put in mixer with paddle, or mix by hand. Add sugar through 1 teaspoon cayenne. Add eggs a little at a time, beating lightly til incorporated, and scraping down sides and bottom of mixer bowl. Remove bowl from mixer; stir in flour w/ wooden spoon and hand beat 1-2 min. til batter is glossy and smooth . Taste and add more cayenne or pepper if needed. Add nuts and orange.
  3. Use non-stick spray on 2 8” -9" square pans. Line bottom and 2 sides with parchment, leaving a 2-3" overhang on 2 opposite sides (for lifting out the baked brownies .) Fill the two pans and level the mixture. Place each pan in any plastic bag, secure , and refrigerate 1 to 2 days.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees F 25-30 min. til brownies just begin to pull away from pan sides. Top will look dry but toothpick will come out gooey. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath, filling a large roasting pan or other rectangular container with ¾”cold water and some ice cubes on the sides. Remove brownies from oven and put the pans right into ice bath til cool. Remove the pans and run a knife edge around the 2 sides where the brownies touch the pan. Pull up on the overhanging paper and remove the brownies. Cut and DEVOUR!!
  5. * Suggestion: use 1 tsp. first. Then, after flour is beaten in, taste and add more pepper and cayenne per your likes.
  1. Candied Clementine Peel
  2. Every winter we go through a number of boxes of clementines. I have trained My Love to cut his peel a certain way, as I do, and we accumulate them in a plastic bag in the frig til we have the peels from a 5 lb box of fruit. Then I candy them. We peel them by using a small serrated knife to cut off the stem end and then score the peel, almost all the way to the bottom (cut through the peel and pith but not into the fruit) into 6 pieces. We pull back the 'petals' and remove the whole peel together, attached at the bottom (it looks like an open flower.) Peels can be stacked inside one another in a plastic bag - to save space and keep them protected.
  3. Bring one (or three, if you have them!) 12-quart pot(s), 2/3 full of water,covered, to a boil (covered so they come to a boil faster.)Remove the lid, and add the peel to the first pot of water,bring to a simmer, and simmer 2-4 minutes , dunking them down, and then lift them out with a slotted utensil (I like Chinese wire scoops for this) and put them in a colander over a bowl. Dump the water. Repeat two more times in new pots of boiling water.
  4. Lift out of the pot and into a colander or two, or onto a rack.Dump all the water.When cool enough to handle, cut apart the petals, through to where they meet at the bottom- so there are no scraps.
  5. Into the 12 quart pot, add 6 cups sugar and 9 cups hot water. Bring to a boil and simmer and stir 5 minutes, until clear. Carefully pour the cut-up peel into the simple syrup. (You need enough to comfortably cover all the peels, so sometimes you may need to add a bit more sugar melted in hot water, at a ratio of 1 to 1.5)
  6. Bring the mixture up to a simmer and simmer gently 2 hours until the fruit looks translucent.Dunk the fruit occasionally to make sure it all is immersed in the syrup. As the peel is simmering, skim off any foam from the syrup. Do not let this mixture boil or your peel will get too soft.
  7. Turn off the heat.Leave peel in syrup overnight.Lift out of syrup and drain in colander over a pot, gently turning the mixture over every few hours. It will take at least a day to drain thoroughly. Transfer the syrup to a container and reserve in the frig or freezer- to reuse for other peel, or to sweeten drinks, or as a cake glaze, etc. The flavor should be soft and lovely, not bitter.
  8. There are options for drying. I take the easy route and leave the peel in the colander for 3 or 4 days, turning the fruit from bottom to top once or twice a day. The peel should not be wet or soggy. It should be moist but dry enough to not be too tacky.Transfer to covered container; store in frig or freezer and chop or slice as needed.
  9. Other option: Lightly oil one or two cookie racks and the sheet pans underneath them. Transfer the peel to the racks in a single layer. Let the candied fruit peel dry overnight. Store as above. Gather the dripped syrup and store as above.
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  • BoulderGalinTokyo
  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
  • luvcookbooks
My eating passions are Japanese, Indian, Mexican; with Italian and French following close behind. Turkish/Arabic/Mediterranean cuisines are my latest culinary fascination. My desert island ABCs are actually 4 Cs: citrus, cumin, cilantro, cardamom, and GARLIC! I am so excited by the level of sophistication that I see on Food52 and hope to contribute recipes that will inspire you like yours do me. I would like to ask a favor of all who do try a recipe of mine > Would you plse review it and tell me truthfully how it worked for you and/or how you think it would be better? I know many times we feel that we don't want to hurt someone's feelings, but. i really do want your honest feedback because it can only help me improve the recipe.Thanks so much.

6 Reviews

BoulderGalinTokyo March 12, 2012
I made candied Natsumikan last month. I used an orange recipe 4 gives 4 cups finished. But the natsumikan 4 yield(ed) 5 cups. Retained some bitterness, which I and friend like. Daughter doesn't . Will these brownies need extra sugar to compensate? I usually reduce US recipes' sugar by 1/3. Thank you (#^÷^#)
LeBec F. March 30, 2012
galin, sorry i didn't see this til tonight. I wouldn't think extra sugar would be needed. Even though i counter the sugar as much as possible,w/ the coffee and pepper, they ARE awfully rich , so the slight bitter would be a good note, i think.

On a side note, i tried candying grapefruit with the clementines the last batch i did- WHAT a bitter bitter (and did i mention BITTER) fiasco. Yech! Maybe with grapefruit (pink , even) you have to blanch them many more times before that bitterness gets withdrawn.I foolishly thought thy'd just go along with the clementine peel but Oh No Mr.Bill- it was the other way around. Won't make that mistake again.
LeBec F. March 12, 2012
galin, fun to hear from you! i've jumped headlong into some inari and maki experimenting lately so i've been thinking of you over there in sushi heaven!
BoulderGalinTokyo March 12, 2012
What a wonderful tip. We've always eaten our citrus in petal shape, hiding seeds inside (for etiquette I think)--but it never occurred to me to stack and then save them- WOW
LeBec F. February 19, 2012
oh boy! well it took me absolutely forEVer to word that clementine peel part of the recipe, so i hope you do try it!!thnx !
luvcookbooks February 19, 2012
oh my! I love citrus and chocolate together and am always looking for ways to use clementines in cooking (find the flavor difficult to translate, usually just eat the clementines). thanks!!