25 July 2010

Mexican Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

Silent Bob and I took a little trip to Brattleboro several weeks ago to run some errands, which gave us a good excuse to have lunch 'out'. We happened upon a small deli/bakery business just outside the city limits and stopped in for a quick sandwich. As we were ordering,  the baker/owner brought a plate of bite-sized samples of a lovely cake and plunked it down on the counter beside the cashier. She called it Mexican Chocolate Cake. Of course, we had to sample and oh ... it was so delicious! I swore that I would research recipes and make one for the next party that we attend or host. I've been all over the Web and asked numerous blogging friends and relatives about buttercream icings and Mexican Chocolate Cake versions and I think I've made the jump!

The cake recipe I found came from a foodblog called Pink Bites. I liked the feel of this recipe and was taken by the fact that it makes a small cake ... one that two people could enjoy without eating it for a week. Try it and see what you think! Now, as for the buttercream, my daughter makes delectable cakes and she assures me that a cooked buttercream is the only way to go.  Alas,  she's a busy soul and never got back to me on her recipe, so good old Ina Garten has graciously stepped in and given me a hand (wink, wink).  I made one-third of her recipe for this buttercream icing, as I have only a single layer cake to frost - please note that it can easily be increased according to your needs.

So... while I was whipping egg whites, I had my own 'barefoot contessa' in the kitchen 'helping' me ! Mimi preferred chewing on the recipe, thank goodness! I have new respect for folks who have multiple dogs that hang around their ktichens! I'm off track, though!

This buttercream starts with sugar and egg whites whipped and then heated over a simmering water bath.. When they are very warm to the touch, you continue whipping them to a stiff meringue state and then add the melted chocolate and other flavorings. I cannot tell you how easy and wonderful this icing is ... very smooth and buttery ... a wonderful mocha chocolate flavor.

As an aside, it's in the 90's here, so I had to refrigerate the cake. The icing set up beautifully and did not 'sweat'. The cake held its crumb and did not get at all soggy, so if you need to chill your version, go for it.  I am eager, though, to make this cake again when the weather is cooler, as I want to see how a room temperature cake and icing  'feel'. Yeah, I know, lame reason to eat chocolate!

Mexican Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream - printer friendly

Mexican Chocolate Cake


1½ c. flour
1 c. sugar
½ c. cocoa powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper/chili powder combination
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. water
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
¼ c. canola oil

Making the Cake:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F. Grease an 8-inch cake pan and set aside.

2. Whisk the  flour, sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, and baking soda together.

3. Mix the cocoa powder into the water and stir to remove any lumps.

4. Turn the cocoa water and oil into the dry ingredients and mix well.

5. Add the vinegar and vanilla and continue stirring.

6. Turn into the pan and bake for 25 – 30 minutes until a cake tester comes clean.

7. Cool ten minutes in the pan before turning out to a rack to cool completely.

8. When the cake is cooled, ice the top and sides with a light chocolate buttercream icing.

This cake is extremely moist and dense with a good substantial crumb. The combination of the spices gives it a really interesting tingle in your mouth. Is it the cayenne, the chili powder, the balsamic vinegar?  What? A very pleasant mystery!

And oh ... aren't my zinnias just lovely?!?

Chocolate Buttercream Icing
adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe


¼ c. egg whites
½ c. sugar
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ lb. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. instant coffee granules, dissolved in ½ tsp. hot water
1 tbsp. dark rum (optional)
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

Making the Buttercream:

1. Chop the chocolates and place in a glass bowl that is set over simmering water. Stir to melt and then remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

2. Whip the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in a cool metal mixing bowl and then place over the same simmering water and bring them to a warm temp (about 5 minutes over the heat).

3. Remove and whip until stiff peaks form. Then, add the butter one tablespoon at a time and continue beating at medium speed to incorporate and create a smooth creamy icing. .

4. Scrape down the bowl and add the cooled chocolate, vanilla, coffee syrup, and rum (if you opt) and continue whipping until the chocolate is completely incorporated.

5. If the icing is too loose, allow to cool and whip again.

Note: This makes enough icing to completely ice a 9-inch single layer cake.


  1. This is wonderful Susan - just the pics of the dark chocolate and the lovely flowers makes me smile.

    The ingredients are very unique what with the balsamic and chilli peppers. WOW!

    Lovely in every way :)

  2. Cake looks delicious. Always useful to have an unusual vegan cake for the odd times I need to make one - minus buttercream of course.

  3. This was a winner! Whipped cream with a mocha twist on it would work just fine, Choclette! Thanks for the visit and the comments!


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