I didn’t have much inspiration for November’s cake. I knew I didn’t want anything pumpkin (tis the season in food blog land) and nothing I saved on Pinterest screamed “MAKE ME RIGHT NOW.” So I took a quick poll of a few work friends and was pleasantly surprised when the vote went to a cake inspired by Mexican hot chocolate.
I should point out that I’ve never had a Mexican hot chocolate. So I made some assumptions. 1. It would be chocolaty. 2. It would have a bit of a kick thanks to the cayenne and chili powder.
The result was… OK.
Alright, I was disappointed, but I think my faulty assumptions are more to blame than the cake. It was not chocolaty nor overly spicy. Instead, the cinnamon came through in droves and the chocolate icing simply added some creaminess. There was a slight twinge of heat, but only when you stopped eating (What? You don’t shovel forkful after forkful of cake into your face without pause? … Me neither.)
This review is probably worse based on timing. I’ve cranked out some really, really stellar cakes this year (looking at you lovely chocolate goodness) and every cake is being ranked against those that came before. So this one is probably falling in the middle. It makes me wary for December’s cake. So much pressure!!
Mexican hot chocolate layer cake
From Food and Wine magazine
Butter and all-purpose flour for cake pans
1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
5oz bittersweet chocolate
5oz white chocolate
5 sticks unsalted butter
4 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ancho chile powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
Remove butter (for cake and frosting) and eggs from the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.
In a medium bowl, whisk the together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until incorporated. In 3 alternating additions, add the dry ingredients and sour cream, scraping down the side of the bowl between additions.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake the cakes for about 30 minutes, until golden and springy and the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the cakes to racks and let cool for 15 minutes, then turn the cakes out, remove the paper and let them cool completely.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and place each type in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in short bursts, stirring in between, until the chocolate is melted. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter until creamy. Meanwhile sift the powdered sugar. At low speed, beat in the sugar, then increase the speed to high and beat until fluffy (about 2 minutes), scraping down the side of the bowl at the end. At low speed, beat in the cream, vanilla, cinnamon, ancho chile powder and cayenne, then gradually beat in the bittersweet and white chocolate. Scrape down the side of the bowl and the paddle, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light, 3 minutes longer.
Once the cakes have cooled, level each with a serrated knife, if necessary. Place one layer on a cake stand and spread with a generous cup of icing. Top with second layer and spread remaining frosting over top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes. Bring to room temperature before serving.