Mercy Thompson is one of my favorite series ever.
It has its problematic moments, as many series do.
But it remains one of the only fantasy books I’ve read that has a mixed-race protagonist. And Mercy is consistently gutsy, sensitive, funny, and every other stereotype-defying thing you could name.
Plus, she bakes! So she’s pretty much my soul twin.
In the beginning of Fire Touched, Mercy’s sorrrt of being taken in by Jesse’s friend’s mom’s pyramid scheme. She’d deny it, but she totally was. She buys some lovely orange essential oil to put in her brownies (and something extra for Adam, wink wink, but it’s really for some fairy protection reasons, because Mercy).
Also, at some other point in the series I knew that Mercy likes what she calls “good” hot chocolate, which according to her is the kind with spices in it. I totally agree. So I set out to make Mexican chocolate, orange-infused brownies!
The thing is, though, that I’m a sucker for that Mexican chocolate flavor. And I just couldn’t help but feel that when I put the orange flavor into the brownie batter, it was diluting that yumminess a bit. That’s why I put the orange flavor in an icing and stuck it on top.
Secret: I may have eaten most of the brownies without the icing. BUT IF YOU LIKE ORANGE ICING, YOU WILL LOVE THE BROWNIES WITH THE ICING, I PROMISE. I’m just crazy.
Oh, pro tip: next time I make these, I’m gonna add some cayenne. Try it if you dare.
Mercy’s Good Chocolate Brownies with Orange-Infused Icing
Makes 16 brownies
- 8 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 6 tbs unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon (if you like cinnamon, heap these babies)
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Pinch salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tbs fresh-squeezed orange juice
- Zest from 1 orange
- 1 tsp unsalted butter, melted
- Pinch salt
- Preheat the oven to 325F. Spray an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with baking spray or butter it or line it with parchment. You do you.
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave in intervals of 30 seconds, stirring well after each interval. When you see that almost all the chocolate is melted, continue stirring until the heat from the bowl takes care of the rest (to avoid burning it up.) Set aside.
- Combine the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl. Using a wooden spoon, beat these dry ingredients into the melted chocolate.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla.
- Stir in the 1/3 cup of flour until no big pockets remain.
- Pour the batter into your pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.
- Stand by the oven and sniff obsessively as the smell fills your house.
- When you’re done sniffing, make the icing. Combine all ingredients except the salt. Taste, and then add salt to cut the sweetness to your liking.*
- When the brownies have cooled a bit, take them out of the pan and let them cool completely before icing. (It’s easiest to ice the whole thing at once, so I suggest dumping the whole brownie block out like you would a cake and then flipping it over. Make sure the brownies are cool enough to do this, obviously.)
*You can store the icing in the fridge while you’re waiting for the brownies to cool. Take it out half an hour or so before you’re ready to ice and give it a good stir when it’s warmed up.