Having never been to Mexico before or eaten chilli and chocolate together, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I am now a chocolate and chilli convert! What a combination! They compliment each other so well, with the gentle heat from the chilli and the creamy chocolate, this cake is oh so moreish. Originally the Aztecs and Mayans drank a lot of spicy chocolate, on a daily basis, and believed it had wonderful medicinal and magical properties. Therefore this cake must be good for you and eaten in large quantities.
I baked this originally as I had a major cake disaster. I broke my Mary Berry ‘ultimate chocolate cake’ that I was baking for my leaving do at work. (Unfortunately there are no photos available I seem to have had a baking meltdown at this point.) I had baked myself crazy (making macaroons and a chocolate cake in one go) and when I attempted to cut the Mary Berry creation in half to layer it up, it fell apart in my hands. I almost cried. Then I remembered I had bookmarked the chilli and chocolate loaf in the Great British Bake Off Book for a rainy day, and this was most certainly a rainy night.
Grabbing the book from the shelf and rolling up my sleeves I was ready to improvise and muddle my way through with what I had left in my cupboard to create a new chilli and chocolate cake.
I threw the milk in a pan and blasted it on the stove until it was almost boiling and switched on the oven at 180 degrees C/350F/gas4. While it heated I had time to start preparing the rest of the cake.
I was surprised by the amount of whisking the butter and sugar needed, I had chosen this cake for it’s simplicity and hadn’t anticipated whisking for 5 minutes, but it was totally worth it. I may even start to whisk the butter and sugar for longer in all of my cakes as you can real feel the difference in the texture. It is a really light and moist sponge. I think it might actually be the lightest sponge I’ve ever made.
When the milk reached scalding point (just before boiling point wait until it starts to steam a bit) I took the pan off the heat and plopped the broken chocolate into the hot milk. After about 5 minutes the chocolate melts into the milk. It needed a good stir to get the chocolate to distribute evenly into the milk.
I added all of the wonderful chilliness to the chocolate milk. As you know by now I don’t ever follow a recipe exactly. I can’t resist tampering with it or tweaking it. Therefore I opted for adding chilli oil (extra hot), chilli powder, paprika and ginger to the milk. Just to ensure it had that added oomph! You can tell if you look closely how much chilli I actually added as there are speckles of red floating in the milk 🙂
Once you think you’ve whisked the butter and sugar together enough, you still need to whisk it a bit more. Then in goes the treacle. Keep whisking until the treacle is incorporated, until it becomes a smooth sugary paste. The butter, sugar and treacle combination needs whisking for about 5 minutes in total. Then it’s time to whisk in an egg at a time. This creates wonderfully fluffy and creamy pale brown batter.
Now if like me, you’re in a real hurry and enjoy the danger of multi tasking to the extreme you can throw all of the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and cocoa powder into the sieve and while you’re still whisking the sugar and eggs with one hand, sift all of the dry ingredients together in a seperate bowl. Lifting the sieve up high to add as much air as possible to the mix. Or if you’re more sensible, chose to do these 2 steps separately.
Then all that’s left to do is fold the flour into the sugar batter with a metal spoon, (about a third of the flour mix) then fold in a third of the chocolate chilli milk, alternating the flour and milk until it’s all incorporated and there are no hidden lumps of flour lurking in the bottom of the bowl. I love my pyrex mixing bowl for this very reason, it makes it so easy to check to see I’ve finished my folding. It will end up as a glossy batter that can be poured slowly into it’s greased and lined tin.
The recipe calls for a 900g loaf tin. I did originally bake a chocolate and chilli loaf, however I failed to take any photos whatsoever due to my aforementioned baking meltdown, so I used this excuse to bake it again. (Did I tell you how much I love this cake??) This time I opted for my favourite bundt tin and made sure I greased it really well to avoid any sticky disasters. I reduced the baking time by 5 minutes to take into account the variation on the tin and it worked brilliantly. It needed 50-55 minutes in the bundt tin or 55- 60 minutes in the loaf tin. But just to make sure I did the cocktail stick test to make sure it was cooked all the way through.
I allowed the cake to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes and then tipped it upside down onto the cooling rack. It slid out effortlessly. No coaxing required!
Now I did mention that I had been baking a Mary Berry chocolate cake originally. This cake also had a chocolate glaze. I figured I wouldn’t need all of it after I broke the Mary Berry cake so I poured it all over my chocolate and chilli cake instead. What a triumph! The original recipe calls for a sifting of cocoa powder over the loaf but now it seems that I have added a chocolate ganache glaze instead. I think this glaze helps to balance out the savoury undertones of the chilli (and mellow out the extra hot chilli oil that I added) so if you can be bothered to add an extra step into the recipe I really recommend that you do.
While the cake was cooling I warmed a good tablespoon of butter in a pan and added 100g of icing sugar and 10g of cocoa powder. Once the butter has melted I added 4-5 tablespoons of warm water to the mix, or enough water to create a smooth glossy glaze. When the cake had cooled enough I simply poured it all over and spooned it onto the gaps. The glaze will crisp up slightly once it has cooled.
The cake will cut easily when it’s cooled, if you can wait that long for your first slice! If you can’t, just dig in with a fork, as it’s so tender it will melt in your mouth 🙂 This was a perfect pick me up after my first 10k practice race that I ran at the weekend, in preparation for the Great North Run. I must admit the thought of wedge of restorative Chocolate Chilli Cake did help to keep my feet moving and got me round in 1 hour 1 minute 🙂
Things that I used to make Mexican Chocolate and Chilli Cake*
Cake – Milk Base
- 250ml milk
- 100g dark chocolate
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- a good splash of chilli oil (1/2 to 1 full teaspoon depending on how hot you like it)
- 1/4 teaspoon of hot paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon of dried chilli powder
Cake – Fluffy Base
- 150g unsalted butter
- 300g brown sugar (demerera or muscovado will do)
- 1 tablespoon of treacle
- 3 eggs (I used medium but you could use large
Cake – Dry Ingredients
- 250g plain flour
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 100g icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon of butter/margarine
- 10g cocoa powder
* Recipe chaotically adapted from The Great British Bake Off ‘How to Bake’ Book – Chocolate Chilli Cake
** Glaze made up from a Mary Berry recipe (Ultimate Chocolate Cake) and a Marguerite Patten recipe (Water Icing with chocolate)