Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mexican Chocolate Cake - Recipe with Photo

Last night, in honor of my friend Jenay's birthday, I felt inspired to bake a cake, and I tried a variation on my favorite fail-safe chocolate cake recipe that was quite magnificent. The innovations built on one another slowly. Earlier in the day I had tried some lovely imperial melange tea I'd bought in an Arabic shop some time back, and I had some left over, so in lieu of my usual strong coffee I substituted the fragrant black tea for Aunt Georgie's original hot water.

That got me thinking how nice it would be to add spices; I considered cardamom, and even lavender, but I settled on cinnamon, thinking about the delight of Mexican chocolate. I fresh-ground a hint of cinnamon with a mortar and pestle, and the gorgeous aroma filled my kitchen.

When I added the first bit to the batter, though, it wasn't quite as strong as I wanted, so I grabbed another cinnamon stick from my Indian spice cupboard. There among the black cardamom pods, cloves, and dried pomegranate seeds, I noticed the jar of red chili flakes, and, thinking of the popular precolonial habit of merging the flavors of chili and cacao, I decided to throw in a pinch of that too.

By the time the fragrant spiced chocolate cake was baking in the oven in an old timer garage sale Bundt pan I'd unearthed in the back of my cabinet, I knew I was committed all the way and needed to find something to top the cake with. I settled on a glaze, but was disappointed with many of the first recipes I saw, which called for corn syrup. . . and then I found Rebecca Rather's Mexican chocolate cake recipe, bursting with real cream and melted chocolate, butter, and toasted pecans, and knew I had the right glaze, particularly since her chocolate cake recipe bore a real similarity to mine. I just opted for milk rather than half-and-half, and decided to keep the pecan halves intact, since I thought that would make an elegant topping for the cake.

What follows is my new Mexican chocolate cake recipe, my own version, from what I made last night with rave reviews from everybody at the party. :) I'm hoping a [bigger cake] photo will follow at some point, since many were taken there!

Mexican Chocolate Cake (with Pecan Glaze topping)


For cake
  • 3 cups (300 g) sifted flour
  • 2 cup (400 g) sugar
  • 6 Tbsp (100 ml) baking cocoa
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) baking soda
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) organic unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cup (500 ml) sour organic milk (see note below in Directions, Tip #1)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) hot black tea (Earl Grey or Imperial Melange)
  • 2 Tbsp (39 ml) vanilla
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 pinch hot red chili flakes (a bit more if you actually want it spicy)

For glaze
  • 2 cups pecan halves (71/2 oz)
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted organic butter
  • 1/2 cup whole organic milk
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 5 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), broken into pieces (I used a 4-oz bar of Ghiradelli bittersweet and1 oz of Ghiradelli 100% chocolate)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Special equipment: a 9-inch tube pan or 12-cup bundt pan

  1. Preheat oven to 350F or 175C. Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt into mixing bowl.
  2. Add egg, butter, sour milk, hot water and vanilla.
  3. Grind cinnamon and chili to a fine powder with a mortar and pestle. Add to the batter.
  4. Beat (preferably with an electric mixer) at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  5. Pour batter into a very well greased Bundt pan.
  6. Bake at 350F or 175C until it tests done (a toothpick or fork comes out clean), about 55 minutes. Cool in pan.
  7. Tip: To sour sweet milk, place 2 Tbsp (15 ml) vinegar in a measuring cup and add enough milk to make 2 cups (500 ml).

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Walnut Molasses Hermits

They aren't the prettiest ever, but boy do they taste good.


  • 2 1/2 c unbleached flour
  • 1/4 ts Salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice (or, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp cloves)
  • 1/2 c organic unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 cage-free organic eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 c unsulphured blackstrap molasses
  • 1 cup raisins, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp organic whole milk
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped


  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  2. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and molasses.
  3. Mix in the dry ingredients, raisins, and milk, then add walnuts.
  4. Gather the dough together in one lump, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 2 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F.
  6. On a lightly floured board, roll out 1/2 of the dough at a time to a thin sheet and cut into desired shapes.
  7. Bake on greased cookie sheets for 10 minutes.

Yield: 60 small cookies

(Based on recipe for molasses hermits from The New Settlement Cookbook, posted to MM-Recipes Digest by "Cindy Hartlin" on Nov 16, 1999.)