This dessert combination of bittersweet chocolate and dusky dried chilies isn't so strange when you consider their happy pairing in Mexican mole sauce. This is a sort of reverse mole sauce-heavy on the sweet and chocolate, light on the spicy essence of chili peppers. If you have the same passions for chocolate and hot chilies that I do, you won't be disappointed by this exotic cake recipe.
- 3 large dried ancho chilies
- 3 chipotle peppers
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon almond extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Mocha Frosting: 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon very finely ground dark roast coffee
- 3 cups confectioner's sugar
- 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped toasted almonds, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Soak the chilies in water to cover overnight or until soft and pliable. Remove the seeds and stems and discard the water. Using a blender, purée the ancho chilies and the chipotle peppers in the 1/2 cup water until smooth.
Melt the butter and chocolate with the cocoa over low heat, stirring often until butter and chocolate are completely melted. Place the eggs, sugar, buttermilk, and almond extract in a large bowl; mix well. Add the dry ingredients (no need to sift) to the buttermilk mixture and mix well. Add the butter-chocolate mixture and the chilies; mix well.
Grease and flour 3 cake pans. Distribute the batter evenly among the pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool before removing from the pans.
To make the Mocha Frosting: Melt the chocolate and the water over very low heat until the chocolate is melted, stir to combine, and cool to room temperature. Combine the chocolate, butter, and coffee in a bowl. Add the sugar and beat at high speed with an electric mixer until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Assemble the cake by placing one layer on a large plate. Frost the top, cover with second layer, frost the top of it, and top with last layer. Frost the top of the cake and the sides. Garnish the edges with the almonds.
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