Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mexican Chocolate Cake


     In honor of Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates the Mexican Army's victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, I was searching for something special to mark the occasion.  Call me crazy.  I found two recipes for Mexican Chocolate Cake, they both looked so good I couldn't decide which one to try so I made them both. It seemed like a good experiment plus I needed the practice of baking in my ovens.
      I'll start out with the first cake which fit perfectly in my 8 inch oven.  I used 8 coals in a circle around the bottom rim and about 12 coals on the lid.  It took 25 minutes to bake, be sure to rotate at least once while cooking.  This cake is dense and even a little on the dry side but the flavor of the cinnamon, chocolate and chili powder is wonderfully concentrated.  It is not overly sweet and a little slice goes a long way.  Let it sit in your fridge overnight, it actually tasted better the next day.  It reminds me of a dessert they serve at my favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant where it comes sitting in a puddle of mango-raspberry sauce.  It is very easy to make, just mix the ingredients in a bowl and pour them into your parchment lined oven.  The glaze came out a wee bit lumpy so I would suggest sifting the powdered sugar and cocoa together before adding the water.  I made this with my grocery store brand cocoa but it would be even better if you could find a good quality Mexican chocolate.  I found this on Real Simple magazine's website.

Mexican Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or ground Mexican chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Chocolate glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
6 tablespoons water
2 or 3 strawberries for garnish

     Lightly coat an 8 inch dutch oven with oil or line with parchment paper.
     Combine all the cake ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until smooth.  Pour into dutch oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
     Cool in dutch oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely.
     When cake has cooled, whisk together the three glaze ingredients.  Dip each strawberry into the glaze and set aside.  Pour the remaining glaze over the cake and arrange the strawberries on top.  Set aside to dry, about 30 minutes.
Thick, rich batter flavored with cinnamon and chilies

Ready in 25 minutes

Let the cake sit for 30 minutes after glazing

A rich, dense, flavorful cake

     This next version of Mexican Chocolate Cake is made with the same spices and vinegar but uses a packaged mix.  For those of you who prefer a light, moist cake that you can sink your teeth into and wash down with a cold glass of milk, this recipe is for you.  The flavorings are more subtle, there is only a hint of cinnamon and the heat from the chiles leaves a faint trace of warmth with each bite.  It is naturally more convenient, especially if you are camping.  I made this in my 12 inch dutch oven, lined with parchment and baked with 12 coals in a circle on the bottom and 16-18 on top.  Rotate it at least once while cooking.  Let it sit for 10 minutes before removing and cool completely before bathing in the chocolate glaze.  This is from the Mr. Food website.  Whichever recipe you decide to make, be adventurous, try something new and fun to celebrate the day.  Viva Mexico!
Mexican Chocolate Cake
1 package (18.25 ounces) chocolate cake mix, batter prepared according to package directions
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper or chili powder
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup water

     Spray or oil a 12 inch dutch oven and line with parchment paper.
     Stir the cinnamon, ground red pepper and balsamic vinegar into the cake batter.  Pour into prepared dutch oven.
     Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees or until wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
     Let cake cool for 15 minutes then remove from dutch oven and cool on wire rack.
     In medium bowl, whisk together the confectioner's sugar, cocoa, and water until smooth.  Drizzle glaze over cake and let sit until firm.

A cake mix makes this version light and airy

Chocolate, cinnamon, and chilies, a winning combination


  1. Yum yum. Made this (the simpler version--second recipe) for my wife for Mother's Day. It was really good. Thumbs up from all my taste testers (wife, kids and one neighbor). I did add a pretty good amount of strawberries to each served piece rather than just the one in your picture. Also, due to threatening thunderstorms I cooked it in the kitchen oven--350 degrees for 40 minutes--instead of over coals. (Dutch oven in the kitchen oven.) Thanks for another winning recipe. --K.C.

    Side note: In your cooking directions third line from the bottom it should say "Let cake cool for 15 minutes..." instead of "Let cake cook for 15 minutes..."

  2. Thanks for sharing K.C., glad you didn't get caught in the rain and that everyone enjoyed the cake. Thanks too for catching the typo, happy cooking! Liddy

  3. This cake is an incredible eyecatcher!
    Thank you, Liddy

    You can see my results here:

    1. Wow, you did a great job on the cake Outlaw, looks delicious especially with the strawberries. You have a beautiful wagon, very nice web site too, thanks for sharing and I'm glad you liked the recipe. Liddy

  4. I did the easier version too. Turned out great for our "South of the Border" camping potluck! I don't know how to add a picture, otherwise I would show you how beautiful it turned out.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know how the cake turned out, a 'South of the Border' camping trip sounds like so much fun! Liddy