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Julio Armenta production chef San Diego State University
Julio Armenta, production chef, San Diego State University

The Creation of a Mexican Classic with a Touch of Southern California

FM: Where did the idea for Mexican Brownies come from?

JA: About 15 years ago, we were thumbing through our catering department’s statements of service (a document with all the food information costs, clients, locations, dates, etc.) to plan our work week. We found that we were catering for a group associated with M.E.C.H.A. (Movimiento Estudiantil, Chicano de Aztlan, which translates to the Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan).

FM: As in Aztecs?

JA: Yes—in fact, the SDSU mascot is the Aztec.

FM: So did M.E.C.H.A. request Mexican Brownies?

JA: They did, and we didn’t know what they were referring to, so we did some research. To our scratch brownie recipe, we adjusted ingredients and added caramel, cinnamon and Abuelitas chocolate (a Mexican staple ingredient, also used in making Mexican hot chocolate). These ingredients are very prominent in Mexican culture.

FM: How did they come out?

JA: Great! We now serve them at high-end events, accompanied with a fresh fruit garnish; we’ve cut them into small squares and bagged them in wax paper for box lunches; we’re cut them into squares and then quarters and served them as Mexican Brownie Bites served on a platter.

Mexican Brownies

YIELD: ½ sheet pan

13¾ oz. cake/pastry shortening
1 lb. 11 oz. granulated sugar
6 whole eggs
13¾ oz. all-purpose flour
¼ Tbsp. salt
6 ¾ oz. cocoa
¼ oz. baking powder
¾ cup corn syrup
1 oz. Abuelitas chocolate, melted

1. Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy in mixer.

2. Slowly pour eggs into mixer bowl. Stop and scrape.

3. Sift dry ingredients and add to mixer, blending until incorporated. Slowly pour melted chocolate and corn syrup until incorporated. Stop and scrape. Mix for 30 seconds.

4. Spread on parchment-lined ½ sheet pan and bake at 325°F for 25 minutes. Rotate and bake an additional 5 minutes until baked through.

5. Garnish with chocolate icing and drizzle with caramel. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and chocolate shavings.

Recipe: Julio Armenta, production chef, San Diego State University

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