Today is my friend’s birthday, and birthdays mean cake . . .
This particular friend happens to be both Gluten and Dairy Free, which does make baking a birthday cake a bit of a challenge. Luckily, I found this recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake, from Dish magazine, in my collection of untried recipes. Besides being quite yummy, with a few simple substitutions I could easily make it fit her dietary restrictions.
The main flavors of this cake are chocolate, chilli, and cinnamon, mimicking the traditional Mexican way of making hot chocolate with these spices. Ancient Aztecs cultivated chocolate for eating and drinking, and the combination of dark chocolate and chilli dates back to their civilization. Hot chocolate was originally created by the Aztecs by roasting cocoa beans, and then using a mortar and pestle to grind the roasted cocoa beans with water. They flavored this drink with chilli, vanilla, honey and pepper. Cocoa beans quickly became a desired crop for the European settlers once they tasted this delicious drink. In the modern westernized world, chilli and chocolate is once again becoming a popular combination amongst us “foodies”.
This recipe makes a very rich, almost pudding like cake, that when topped with candied pumpkin seeds and vanilla whipped cream (the birthday girl skipped this part) made a lovely mid morning birthday treat.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake
adapted from: Dish magazine
MAKES:8 -10 servings
for the cake
- 200 grams or 7 ounces of butter or butter substitute like Olivani
- 200 grams or 7 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup castor sguar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons plain flour or brown rice flour for a gluten free alternative
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar, for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
for the vanilla whipped cream
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the candied pumpkin seeds
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 cup castor sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 70 grams or 2.5 ounces of pumpkin seeds
Preheat the oven to 170 C or 340 F
Grease a 20cm (8″) cake tin, and line it with baking paper.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, or in a double boiler. If using the bowl, do not let the water touch the base of the bowl or the chocolate will seize.
Stir int he sugar and vanilla and leave the chocolate to cool, for about 10 minutes.
While chocolate is cooling, put all the ingredients for the candied pumpkin seeds into a bowl and combine well with a fork. Do not beat the egg white until frothy.
Spread seed and spice mixture evenly on a lined baking tray and bake for 5-6 ,minutes, turning once during baking.
The seeds will be sticky when you turn them, but well become crunchy when cooled. break seed sup into pieces once it has completely cooled.
Once the chocolate has cooled, stir in the eggs, and then fold in the flour, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.
Pour mixture into the greased cake tin making sure the top is smooth. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until the center is set, but not too firm. This actually took about twice that time in my oven. Just make sure the cake has risen and a knife in the center comes out clean.
Transfer to a rack and let cool completely in the tin, where the cake will deflate and set.
To serve: Whip the cream and vanilla to soft peaks. Remove the cake from the tin and gently peel off the baking paper. Place on a serving plate and dust with the combined icing sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Serve with a dallop of cream and a sprinkling of the candied pumpkin seeds.