Chai Tea Brownies: Are these a sign of Stockholm Syndrome?

February 28, 2007


OK, I admit it: This is another solo-Husband dessert project that the wife can’t eat. Wait, hold your hexes and curses! Yes, I made this dessert while my wife is under doctor’s orders not to eat sweets until our son is born. But this dessert was not made with intent to torture. In fact, my wife played a key role in its design.

We were having guests for a dinner party and I was contemplating dessert (a must, in my mind, for dinner parties). Since we’ve had such bad weather of late, I had this overwhelming desire to make something chocolate, dense and almost tooth-achingly rich. At the same time, I wanted something slightly bitter to contrast nicely with sweet pistachio ice cream.


I was going to make an espresso or coffee brownie. In fact, I was about to grind some beans and start brewing when my wife saw a can of chai tea powder in the cabinet and asked, “Why don’t you use that instead?” It was a moment of brilliance — not unlike discovering antibiotics from a stale cheese sandwich. Once added, the chai tea gave the brownies a tang, fragrance and spice, but didn’t interfere with the brownie’s density and tendency toward being gooey (which any decent brownie should have).

I will warn you, however, that I am not kidding when I say these are rich. Flavor-wise, an inch will get you a mile. These are not the brownies from your childhood; you can’t consume a quarter of the pan and wash it down with a glass of milk. So, if you serve them solo, small slices are the way to go. I personally think the best match is my pistachio ice cream. The creamy, salty, nuttiness of the ice cream cuts through the density of the chocolate and plays well with the spices from the chai.


Alright, truth be told, you should probably still curse and hex me. I was making dessert that my wife had to sit and watch several others eat while she sat there, dessertless. I do provide some relief by keeping her cravings at bay with large quantities of blueberries. Isn’t everything made better with blueberries?

Then again, maybe I am a bit cruel and torturous. Perhaps I’ve just worn her down, and now she’s developed Stockholm Syndrome. That would explain why she gives me tips on how to make a better brownie. Hmmm… Well, can’t be bothered with logic and reason, back to the kitchen with me!

… I’ve got this idea for a cake, and I need to go ask her what she thinks about it.

Click here to download the recipe for Chai Tea Brownies.


Chai Tea Brownies
4 large eggs
2 sticks unsalted butter (melted)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate (chopped or in chips)
1/4 cup instant chai tea powder
1 tbsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt


1. Preheat your oven to 325F.

2. Grease and flour a 9 x 9 baking dish.

3. In a bowl, combine cocoa powder, flour, salt and the chai tea. Whisk together until integrated. Set aside.

4. In a separate bowl or the bowl of your mixer, add the eggs and whisk until they lighten in color. Add both sugars and the vanilla and mix together. After the sugar and vanilla are completely integrated, slowly add the butter and mix. Once the butter is mixed in, add the cocoa powder and flour mixture slowly and mix until completely integrated. Fold in the pieces of chocolate.

5. Transfer the brownies to the baking dish and bake in the oven for 50 to 60 min. To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the dish and remove. The toothpick should pull out cleanly without being wet.

6. Let rest for 10-15 min before cutting and serving. Enjoy!


  1. You really are evil incarnate aren’t you? I notice how every time you post one of these you mention the blueberries, is that your guilt talking? To make you feel less guilty I think you should box up the leftovers and send them to me in Florida, that way she doesn’t have to see or smell them. That would teach you.

    On another topic, what would you do with several large Ugly Ripe tomatos? I plan to make one into salsa, but am not sure what to do with the other 5 or so?

  2. Oops I forgot to ask my on topic question. When you say instant Chai tea, do you want 1/4 of prepared, or a 1/4 cup of chai tea powder (which is how I imagine instant would come)? Sorry if this is really stupid, but I have never dealt with instant chai tea.

  3. Okay. So the blueberries as guilt… well, I do worry about that… but alas, I have to keep going forward. No time for analysis. Push forward. Keep going. Or to refer to the great Dory from that movie classic, Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” In her world, it was a way to stay positive. In my world, its a method to stay oblivious.

    And very nice catch. I’ve not been on my “A” game of late, so it is VERY much appreciated. I changed the recipe (both on the blog and .PDF) to reflect the use of the powder. I guess I should send brownies as a reward?

  4. So if you were going to go ahead and just make your coffee/espresso brownies, how would I substitute that in the recpie?

  5. I see you are starting desensitization (I don’t think I spelled that right) to kids movies, as you have Finding Nemo down. Hmm, I may just have to go rent that while my husband is out of town (We just did both toy stories, so I don’t think he is ready for another Pixar just yet).

    If it makes you feel better I am very rarely on my “A” game.

  6. Courtney, it’s likely our second favorite of the Pixar flicks. My favorite is by far The Incredibles. But I don’t know if think any lines have been applicable as neither of us have super powers.

    Well, there is one thing. My wife has the seemingly superhuman ability to recount movie lines. Unfortunately, she seems to only use that power for evil by twisting my mind during a rant. She’ll think something I said reminds her of a funny line and feel at that moment its the perfect moment for a quip. Unfortunately, I’m derailed and she sends me typically laughing. Evil woman despite my torturious manufacturing of sweets.

    I gave your tomatoes some thought and decided that you can always make sauce. Cut them in half, and brush out most of the seeds. Add a tiny bit of sugar and some fresh basil and oregano. Cook and there is something beautiful with an excellent freezer life. Also, baking them on top of a pizza pie.

    You can also dry them. There is a method for making tomato powder in the French Laundry Cookbook. I’ve been playing around in my head lately with the ideas of powders, but haven’t gotten around to using them yet. But turning them into powders seems like an excellent way to save them from rot. I don’t want to copy the recipe because it’s someone else’s work for money. I also know that another blogger, who is also a DC person, is doing the whole French Laundry cookbook, but had a bit of mischief making powder according to a local DC foodie site.

    But I suspect there is someone else in the blogging world who has made the powder, if you can’t find it or don’t have it. Email me (myhusbandcooks@gmail.com) and I’ll send you the recipe. It’s going to be strange because it involves the microwave and for a long time.

    BPM2000-I also gave your question some thought. I didn’t have a recipe at the time so I was going to work from scratch. My initial thinking was to back off the butter a bit (1 stick), add a 1/4 cup of oil to make up for the fat, make a coffee syrup by reducing say 2 cups of java with the white sugar to about 1 1/2 cups Though I’d have to watch out for bitterness and play with this. I would have also switched to a sweeter chocolate like semi-sweet. But I hadn’t gotten that far when my wife suggested the chai.

    However, I know there are likely a dozen recipes that use instant espresso powder in the same way I used instant chai powder. I goggled it and here is one from Giada De Laurentiis. I can’t vouch for it, but it seems very easy. I hope this helps.

  7. Hmmm….another beautifully shot, rich and sinful dessert posted. Well well…..I just don’t know….hmmm. I mean, I just really, really want to believe in you, y’know….that you’re a nice guy and all but you are


    *whew* Where did THAT come from???? Sorry….all it means is that my self-imposed dessert ban at home to help us with our waistlines is starting to make me irrational. Forgive me. I still think you’re divine

  8. We need to combine those chai brownies with my choc-chai ice cream… overload…

  9. I love the addition of chai, brilliant idea indeed! I have chai tea every morning instead of coffee, now to add it to my brownies and whereever else I can would be even better!

  10. Yeah, I had thought of sauce, but I also have some cherry tomatos, and wanted to try the sauce that was posted on smitten kitchen, but I suppose that I can freeze the extra like you suggested. And a tomato pie does sound good.

    I did like the incredibles, but felt they were targeting a much older audience than with their other movies (not that I minded, but I wondered how many parents were dissapointed upon taking a toddler). My husband remembers movie lines too, but he always thinks of them at the worst times, like during prayers in church. He will start giggling uncontrolably. It gets REALLY embarrasing.

  11. Well, how many know that Stockholm syndrome is named after a robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm, Sweden, in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage from August 23 to August 28 in 1973.The victims became emotionally attached to their victimizers, and even defended their captors after they were freed from their six-day ordeal.

  12. Karin, I understand the reference and hence the link for others in the body of the post. Stockholm Syndrome has also been associated with various prisoner scenarios in this country (the US). Most famous, and likely most controversial, is Patty Hearst participation with Sibanese (sp?) Liberation Front in bank robberies after she was kidnapped. Those who actually go through such situations are a tradgedy as they must deal with both the social anxieties of being a prisoner and the shame and consequences of their actions during such terrible conditions.

    In this case, I meant it very lightly and comedicly as a way to explain my wife’s cooperation with the creation of this dessert. She cannot eat, but is forced to bear witness to many creations of late until she is now participating in her own misery. I thought it was clever and meant it to make light of the fact I get several emails and comments about the misery of torturing my gorgeously pregant wife. Though I am quite certain those will continue as I am a terrible and wicked husband.

  13. Well,as blog visitors usually have an average stay of only about 35-90 seconds I thought I should explain the Stockholm Syndrom. It is quite disillusioning to realize that after slaving over a post for hours, (putting in links or so) that it is likely to be skimmed over in less than two minutes.

  14. Karin, I think I owe you an apology. The lawyer (or lizard) part of my brain clicked on and thought you were offended. Clearly, I got prickely way too fast. You have one million pardons! Thanks for the comment. All are welcome, though I clearly am a bit too sour for my own good.

  15. I made a chai tea cake a few weeks back that really called for matcha, which I could not find. It was pretty good, but not good enough to feature on my blog. Some things are edible but not photographable.

    You have succeeded, once again, H & W.

  16. Hi

    I want to all of you know, World is mine, and yoursite good


  17. Thank You

  18. If you were going to make *real* chai brownies like I do, you’d junk the crappy powered mix – who buys that junk anyway? – and use actual spices, like ground cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper. You call yourself a foodie? pshaw.

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