Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sea salt and cinnamon pita chip brownies

Do you know Chuck Hughes? Personally, I have never met him, but I do watch his TV show on Food Network Canada whenever I can. Chuck Hughes is a restaurant chef. He is the owner and chef of Garde-Manger (this translates as pantry), a well-known restaurant at Montreal's Old Port. I have never met Chuck, and I have never been to his restaurant. I'd love to do both, but I'd settle for eating at his restaurant, and perhaps getting a peak of him at work in his kitchen (he is quite, quite cute, and has a great, genuinely happy smile!).
When I found out that I could win dinner for two at Chuck's restaurant, simply by cooking or baking using In Snax pita chips or the In Cuisin mashed potatoes, I could not resist!
In Snax pita chips have been around for several months. I first discovered them at the St-Laurent street festival this summer. In Snax reps were giving out loads of packets of their pita chips (available in 3 flavors, but I prefer the sea salt, and the cinnamon flavors). I loved them. If you ask me, they seem like a pretty healthy snack, very simple, and if you read the label on the back of the package, they feature very few ingredients (which is a rare quality in snack food nowadays).

So, how do I attempt to win dinner for two at Chuck's restaurant? I wait for the last moment possible to start recipe development, conveniently when my neighborhood grocery store is out of all the In Snax products that I need to use in my recipe. Great!
Luckily, my mom saved the day because the grocery store near her house had lots (Thanks, Mom!).

I ground the pita chips to make pita chip crumbs, then I used them to make brownies.

My chocolate of choice for this recipe was also a local product: Theobroma chocolate. I love Theobroma chocolate. It's produced in Quebec, it's organic, and it's not too sweet.

Here's my recipe.

Sea salt and cinnamon pita chip brownies
Makes 16 brownies
  • 2 cups In Snax pita chips (I used half sea salt-flavored, and half cinnamon-with-a-touch-of-sugar–flavored)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa, sifted
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 8 oz Theobroma chocolate (~6.5 bars of both dark chocolate and espresso chocolate), chopped
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare an 8x8 brownie pan by lightly greasing it, and lining it with parchment paper (be sure to leave an overhang of parchment to act as handles when it comes time to remove the brownies from the pan—see the above photo). Set the prepared pan aside. 
  3. Grind the pita chips in a food processor until you have fine crumbs (don't worry if there are a few larger crumbs).
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pita crumbs and the cocoa, and set them aside.
  5. Melt the butter, milk, and chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. When the chocolate and butter are just melted, remove the pan from the heat, and set aside to cool slightly.
  6. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sugar until they are combined.
  7. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in the butter/milk/chocolate mixture. Mix on low to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  8. With the mixer still running on low speed, add the dry ingredients slowly. Mix until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  9. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan.
  10. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool.
  11. When the brownies are completely cooled, remove them from the pan using the parchment overhang, and slice them on a cutting board.
  12. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk.

These brownies are fabulous, if I may say so myself. They are not too dense, a little fudgy, and a little chewy. And the most interesting aspect of the brownies is that they are nut-free, and yet the pita chip crumbs gave them a slight "nutty" texture. It's like they contain chopped nuts, and yet they totally don't. For those brownie-edge fans (like me), the edge is good and chewy, just how I like it. The espresso flavor (from the 1.5 espresso chocolate bars I used) enhanced the chocolate flavor. The sea salt and cinnamon from the chips linger in the background. All in all, this recipe is a great marriage of two Quebec products that I have grown to love.

Here's hoping that my brownies will win the contest. If they don't, at least I have a 16 fantastic brownies and lots of milk to drown my sorrows with ;)



  1. These look amazing! I hope you win too!

  2. Wow. I've never seen a brownie like this. Nice addition of cinnamon flavor.

  3. What an interesting recipe, very creative!

  4. I like it.. I'm very interested in this! I have cinnamon pita chips in my pantry right now too.. hmmm.

  5. This is such a creative entry for the contest; I hope you win!

  6. wow, really innovative- looks great!

  7. yum. what a great idea. Now I want to make these AND I want to go to Canada to eat at his restaurant.

    I'm so glad I found your blog.

  8. What a clever idea! These sounds delicious!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

  9. Holy cow, they look almost like straight fudge! I bet the salt and Cinnamon chips really add a lot of interest!

  10. This is such a cool idea, I love the salty sweet chocolate taste. I hope you win!

  11. Great original recipe! I hope you win! Very clever. :)

  12. I can't do a taste test, but if it's just going by looks, the photo and the recipe look fantastic. I hope you win and get to meet THE Man!

  13. Thanks to everyone for all the support! Sadly, my brownies lost. I will have to wait to visit Chuck's restaurant and to meet him :(

  14. These sound wonderful! I love crunchy and salty with chocolate! Great recipe!

  15. Wow--what a creative way to use pita chips! Brownies would have been the last thing to occur to me--but your recipe looks amazing, and I hope you win. I bet the sweet/salty combo is killer!