Earlier this week (or maybe it was last week) in the thread on Voseges Chocolate nja posted a link to a Chocolate Chile Brownie recipe from the San Francisco Chronicle. The recipe was vegan - no dairy, no egg - but I've worked with chile as an ingredient enough to think this recipe seemed pretty plausible.
Today a friend and I actually prepared the recipe. Neither of us, BTW, are vegetarian, let alone vegan, but we were both intrigued. And for being vegan the end result wasn't bad at all. It was not, however, a brownie. Not even close. It was also a HUGE amount of work.
If anyone else has attempted this recipe, or is considering it, here are a couple of suggestions.
1) Toast the chiles first before you soak them. There was a nice chile flavor in the brownies, but it had a raw, or unfinished, kind of taste to it. Getting a good char on the guajillos and anchos would go a long way towards getting rid of the raw flavor. The smokiness the charring will impart will go well with the richness of chocolate and add a missing dimension to the recipe.
2) I'd also reduce the amount of sesame seeds in the recipe. It called for 1/2 cup toasted, but there was a fairly pronounced sesame taste to the end product. Not what I really want in a brownie flavor profile.
This was also the first time I used Sucanat as a sweetner. It has kind of a mild molasses taste to it and can be used in a 1:1 ratio instead of white or brown sugar. I liked this product.
The brownies came out very moist and looked like a typical brownie. Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the taste test. The friend who helped me make them is a chocoholic, as is my mother. Both of them rejected the brownie as distasteful. While not typcially brownie in taste, they weren't abysmal. Nothing a little full fat French Vanilla ice cream couldn't fix ;-).
By contrast, we also made the Fudge Supreme Brownie from Nancy Bagget's cookbook - All-American Cookie Book. OMG, these are probably one of the best brownies I've ever made. They also went together in less than 1/3 the time as the vegan brownie took, and were SIGNIFICANTLY better than the vegan brownie.
As an alternative to regular brownies, the Chron recipe probably does give vegetarians and vegans a viable dessert option. For those of us that still eat eggs and butter without a backwards glance, stick to regular brownies.