The Mayans used local spices to flavour the drink made from the cacao bean; one of the most often used spices was chilli, but vanilla, cloves, allspice, pepper plus nuts and flowers were also used. The sweeter spices such as cinnamon and aniseed started to be used when the drink was sweetened with sugar, around the 16th century. Nowadays, chocolate products flavoured with chilli and cinnamon are often given names alluding to their Mexican or Mayan heritage.
It was with this in mind that I decided that a spiced chocolate brownie was the best thing to make for the Mexican round of the culinary challenge called Formula 1 Foods, over at Caroline Makes. The idea is to make either a traditional dish eaten in that country or something inspired by the culture, traditions and ingredients found in that country.
To a brownie batter made by melting 140g each of butter and plain chocolate together, then adding in turn, 300g light muscovado sugar, three eggs, 160g plain flour and 3 tablespoons of cocoa, I added a teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon of ground ancho chilli pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground aniseed and a pinch of ground cloves. This was baked for 25-30 minutes at 180C, in a 20cm square tin.