Carolyn Niethammer with you here today talking about one of my favorite subjects, mesquite meal. The first crop of mesquite pods ripened early this year on the lower desert. Here in Tucson, Desert Harvesters sponsored a milling in June. (A milling is this miraculous process of putting whole pods in a hammermill and getting lovely, silky flour at the end.) Because of the early summer rains, there is a huge second crop of pods ripening on the trees now(see the photo above). If you missed the first round, there will be opportunities to get your pods ground in communities throughout Arizona later in the fall after the weather has dried out.
So what to do with all that mesquite meal after you have had your fill of pancakes?
I have been cooking with mesquite pods since the early 1970s and have published in my cookbooks lots of recipes using the ground pods. But until now, I’ve never been completely satisfied with a mesquite brownie recipe. But this one that I made for a potluck at Native Seeds/SEARCH earlier this summer is close to perfect. I used pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) because I think the flavor goes well with mesquite, but pecans would work too. If you cannot bear to bake anything without chocolate, feel free to toss in some chocolate chips and maybe a little cocoa powder as well. The familiar warm flavor of mesquite will still come through.
The recipe has a considerable amount of fat and sugar, but those are the ingredients that make up what we consider a proper brownie. Just go easy on how many you eat.
If you aren’t up to making your own mesquite meal, you can purchase it from the Native Seeds/SEARCH retail store or order on-line from NS/S or Flor de Mayo. Mesquite meal is also available at farmers’ markets throughout Arizona.
Best Mesquite Brownies
2/3 cup melted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup mesquite meal
2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1- 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)
1/2 cup pepitas or chopped pecans
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine mesquite meal, flour, baking powder and salt if using. Set aside.
- Combine melted butter and oil in a large bowl. Stir in sugar and add eggs, one at a time, combining well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
- Stir in mesquite and flour mixture. Add chocolate chips if using.
- Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. When cool, cut into squares.
Want more recipes for mesquite meal? Check out my cookbook Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants available at Native Seeds/SEARCH or from Amazon or B&N. There you’ll find my favorite recipes for Apple-Mesquite Coffee Cake and a killer Banana Mesquite layer cake.