From The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes that Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America and the American South. Copyright © 2011 by Sandra A. Gutierrez. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press. Chile-Chocolate Brownies

These decadent bars have a rich, moist, and dense texture. The luxurious taste of chocolate will meet your taste buds and the sweetness will seduce your senses. Then slowly the slight heat of chiles will spread across your tongue and surprise you with a tingling sensation. The combination of chocolate and chiles gives the well-known mole poblano of Mexico and the mole de plátano of Guatemala their distinctive flavor. And here, fruity ancho chiles are a perfect match for rich, dark chocolate. The meaty pecans lend an unmistakable Southern touch. These are “grown-up” goodies. Make a batch without chiles for the kids.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate

2 cups sugar

4 eggs, at room temperature

1 1//2 teaspoons vanilla

3//4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1//4 teaspoons ancho chile powder

1//2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped and toasted pecans (optional)

For the glaze:

1//4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 tablespoon cocoa powder

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon coffee-flavored liqueur

1//2 teaspoon vanilla

1//4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 9x9x2-inch baking pan. Place the butter and chocolate in the top of a double boiler and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they have melted and are well combined. Lift the bowl carefully from the pan so no water droplets come into contact with the chocolate mixture; let cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the sugar; add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; stir in the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ancho chile powder, and salt; gradually add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, beating well until fully combined. Add the pecans. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the center is set and the brownies begin to pull back from the sides of the pan. Cool brownies for 1 hour in the pan.

To make the glaze, in a medium bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, butter, liqueur, vanilla, and chile powder; blend until smooth. Place the glaze in a pastry bag (or zip-top bag with a snipped corner), and drizzle back and forth over the brownies. Cut them into 20 bars.

Yield: 20 browniesJalapeño Deviled Eggs

These hearty morsels are rich, soft, and creamy. They offer just the right amount of crunch and a subtle kick from the chiles. Stuffed eggs, which are very popular in the South, are also common in Latin America, where they’re usually filled with cold salads, such as Ensalada Rusa (page 000). They’re easily made with everyday ingredients and can be made ahead of time. I often serve them at ladies’ luncheons, picnics by the lake, or Sunday barbecues. Loved by adults and children alike, these are often the first to disappear from my table. I have a trick that makes peeling hard-boiled eggs a cinch: crack the bottom of the cooked eggs while they’re still hot and then plunge them into iced water until they’re cold. This scrumptious recipe can be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled, making it ideal for feeding large crowds. Easy to tote, consider taking these to your next potluck supper.

6 eggs

1//2 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons finely chopped yellow onion

2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeños (seeded and deveined if less heat is desired)

2 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro (leaves and tender stems)

1 teaspoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (leaves and tender stems)

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1//8 teaspoon salt

1//8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Smoked Spanish paprika (optional, for garnish)

Curly or flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)

Place the eggs in a medium pan and cover with cold water. Set the pan over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. As soon as the water comes to a boil, cover the pan and turn off the heat. Let the eggs cook for 12 minutes. Plunge the eggs into iced water to stop the cooking process.

Once the eggs are chilled, peel off the shells. Halve each egg lengthwise; scoop out the yolk into a small bowl, and set the egg whites on a plate lined with paper towels. Using a fork, mash the egg yolks into a paste; add the mayonnaise, onions, jalapeños, cilantro, parsley, mustard, salt, and pepper and stir together well. (If not serving immediately, cover the egg whites and the filling separately with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours). Using a spoon (or a pastry bag), fill the egg white cavities with the egg yolk mixture (about 1 tablespoon). Chill them, loosely covered, until ready to serve (but no longer than 2 hours). When ready to serve, sprinkle the eggs with smoked paprika and garnish with parsley.

Yield: 6 servingsChilled Avocado-Buttermilk Soup with Crab Salad Nacho

This is a classic soup with a twist: refreshing, smooth, and sinfully delicious. Every spoonful is like a collision of textures in which buttery liquid meets crunchy chips and tender seafood. Sherry imparts depth of flavor; cayenne lends subtle spiciness that lingers on the tongue. The lime juice seasons this soup lightly without overpowering the flavor of the avocados. Chileans serve palta reina, an avocado filled with creamy salad (most often chicken or seafood), as a first course, and I couldn’t resist transforming this combination of ingredients into an enticing soup that is as easy to make as it is impressive to serve. For a stunning presentation, serve this soup well chilled in glasses.

For the soup

2 Hass avocados

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup buttermilk

1//4 cup dry sherry

1//4 cup minced onion

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 1//2 tablespoons lime juice, or to taste

For the crab salad

1 cup crabmeat (claw meat only), picked for shell fragments

1//4 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoons lime juice

1 tablespoon minced white onion

2 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley (leaves and tender stems)

Pinch cayenne pepper

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the nachos

8 corn tortillas, quartered

1//2 cup vegetable oil

Halve and pit the avocados; scoop out the flesh with a spoon into a blender. Add the chicken broth, buttermilk, sherry, onions, and garlic; blend until smooth. Transfer the avocado soup to a nonreactive bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and lime juice; cover well with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour (or up to 6 hours).

Make the crab salad: in a medium bowl, combine the crabmeat, mayonnaise, lime juice, onions, and parsley, being careful not to break up the crab meat; add the cayenne and season with salt and pepper. Chill the salad until ready to serve.

Fry the tortilla chips: Fit a baking sheet with a metal cooling rack. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat to 360˚. Working in batches, carefully add the tortilla pieces to the oil. Fry them, turning halfway through, until golden and crispy on both sides (2-3 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried chips to the prepared cooling rack; sprinkle with salt.

To plate: ladle the soup into chilled bowls. Top each tortilla chip with crab salad and float one in every soup bowl; serve the rest on a platter. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4-6 servings