The chocolate-chili combo is popular for good reason: the richness of cacao can temper a chili’s heat, allowing the other flavor notes to come through. Here, caramel provides one additional layer of contrast to really highlight the citrus-y notes of the pequin.
Pequin Caramel Brownies
Makes 9 large brownies and 1 cup caramel
For the brownie batter:
🌶 4½ ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
🌶 1½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
🌶 1 ¾ cup sugar
🌶 3 large eggs
🌶 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
🌶 ¾ teaspoon salt
🌶 1 cup all-purpose flour
For the caramel:
🌶 1 ½ cups sugar
🌶 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
🌶 ¼ teaspoon salt
🌶 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
🌶 6 tablespoons heavy cream
🌶 5 to 7 dried, pequin chiles, crushed
Make the batter: Preheat the oven to 350°. In a double boiler set over some simmering water, add the chocolate and butter and melt, stirring, until smooth. Let cool slightly. Transfer the melted chocolate to a large bowl, and stir in the sugar and the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla, salt, and all-purpose flour and stir until combined. Line an 8-inch-by-8-inch pan with parchment paper and spray the parchment and the sides of the pan with cooking spray. Pour ½ the batter into the pan and spread into an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven (it won’t be cooked through) and set aside while you prepare the caramel.
Make the caramel: Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and 6 tablespoons of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to simmer and let cook undisturbed until the caramel reaches 340° on a candy thermometer (it’ll have darkened into a light amber). Remove the pan from heat and quickly whisk in the butter and cream (the mixture will froth up). Whisk until smooth.
Pour ½ cup of the caramel onto the par-baked brownie layer and spread out evenly, leaving about ½-inch margin from the edge. Sprinkle the crushed pequin chilies evenly over the caramel. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to help set.
Add the remaining brownie batter to the top of the caramel and spread out evenly in a single layer so that the caramel is covered entirely. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into squares and serving. For an extra burst of flavor, top lightly with The Chili Lab Pequin Chili Salt.