Sugar, spice and everything's nice

It's almost criminal how long I've kept these spiced up brownies a secret from you.

The story begins sometime back in June, somewhere after Spain but before Canada. After flitting back to Paris between each leg of our journey, we are saying goodbye for good (or at least the foreseeable future). One of our last nights in town, L. hosts a farewell potluck dinner. I offer to make dessert (shocking, I know). With all my cookbooks packed in boxes here, there and everywhere but L.'s living room, I cruise her bookshelves for inspiration and soon settle on a chocolate cake with cinnamon crumb topping.

Before long, there’s a mighty fine scent emanating from the four électrique on her bedroom floor.* While the end product meets with approval around the table later that evening, the dry crumbly texture is a far cry from the dense cake I'd envisioned.

Fast forward to August in Vancouver. I'm skulking (or was it sulking?) around the kitchen looking for something to eat and thinking about things to bake. Brownies seem good but dull, and that's when I have my light bulb moment.

A little sugar here, a little spice there and one pan of delicious brownies later, it almost comes to fisticuffs when dessert rolls around. In the end, R. violates every rule in the book when he refuses to take a square from the end of a row and instead cuts straight to the heart of the brownie. Bold move.

A few weeks later, I’m just getting around to the blogging part when Deb over at Smitten Kitchen posts her take on the spiced up brownie. Foiled!

But I can only keep a secret this juicy for so long. Today’s the day.

* Taking sweet dreams to a whole new level

Spice Crumble Brownies

3/4 cup butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Spice Crumble Topping:
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and line the bottom of an 8-inch round baking pan with parchment paper.

Prepare the brownies by melting butter and chocolate over low heat until smooth.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. In a second bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and vanilla. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

Pour the brownie batter into the prepared plan.

Prepare the spice crumble topping by combining the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add the butter and blend the mixture using a pastry blender and/or your fingertips.

Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the brownie batter.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until the brownies are cooked but still slightly gooey in the centre. Remove from the oven and cool before cutting.