Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mayan Chocolate Cake

I LOVE the flavor combination of bittersweet chocolate with cinnamon and a touch of chili pepper. Although it is gaining popularity in recent years, this taste is actually not new at all. When the Mayans and the Aztecs made chocolate into a drink, it was spicy, not sweet.

I have seen spicy dark chocolate in the form of chocolate bars and fudge, and even ice cream. That got me thinking, Could it work as a cake? So I took my favorite chocolate layer cake recipe and tinkered a bit. Fair warning: this is not a cake for your typical chocolate lover (as my husband pointed out), this is for people who like to spice things up. The spices are noticable but not overwhelming, so adjust them to your own taste.

1 3/4 Cups All-purpose Flour
3/4 Cup Cocoa Powder (if the special dark cocoa powder is available in your area, use that)
1 Cup Sugar
2/3 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon (I use Penzey's Vietnamese Cinnamon, which is strong. If using a grocery store brand, use 2 teaspoons)
dash of Cayenne pepper (or freshly ground black pepper will work, with a slightly different taste)
1 Cup Milk
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
2 Eggs
1 Cup of very strong, hot, freshly brewed coffee
2 oz chopped chocolate, the darker the better (go for a bar that is at least 60% cocoa or more)
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9" round pans and use parchment circles on the bottom of the pans. Put the chopped chocolate into the hot coffee and stir, letting it melt. Combine Milk and eggs in a small bowl with vanilla and beat lightly. Now in your mixer, combine the flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices and mix on low speed until well-combined. Add the oil, mixing for about 30 seconds. Then add the milk/egg mixture and mix on low speed until moistened. Add the coffee/chocolate mixture on low speed beating just until it makes a consistent batter (it will be a little thin).
Bake for about 35-40 minutes, testing with a toothpick to make sure it is done in the middle.

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
3 oz chopped extra dark chocolate
1 Tablespoon dark corn syrup
3 Cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon (depending on your taste)
dash of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons fresh coffee

Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave (heat it in 20 second intervals, stirring in between, so you don't burn it). In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, cocoa powder, sugar, and spices until well mixed. Add the melted chocolate, corn syrup, vanilla, and coffee. Beat on medium low until fluffy, adding more coffee or powdered sugar to get the consistency you desire.