Mexican Chocolate Cake with Smoked Chile Ganache and Chocolate Glaze


This dense, fudgy, torte-like cake combines rich bittersweet chocolate with almonds, espresso, black pepper and cinnamon.

The ganache uses a cream infused with smoky costeño chiles, and it’s all glazed with another chocolate coating. A little of this decadent dessert goes a long way, even for chocoholics. Best warmed slightly before being served with dulce de leche, vanilla ice cream or cinnamon-scented whipped cream.

See other related recipes in Herbed Sweets

Yield: 8 to 12 servings
Prep time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Shelf life: 4 to 5 days


For the ganache:
¾ cup heavy cream
1 to 2 costeño or other smoky chiles, according to taste
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
⅓ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the cake:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon powdered instant espresso (not granular)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup finely ground toasted almonds

For the glaze:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon light corn syrup

For toppings/garnish:
¾ cup almonds, toasted, plus 12 whole blanched almonds
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
dulce de leche ice cream, if desired


  1. Make the ganache: In a saucepan, bring the cream and chiles to a simmer, remove from the heat and let infuse for 20 minutes. Remove the chiles, add the butter, sugar and salt and return to low heat until the butter melts.
  2. Scrape into a bowl, stir in the chocolate and vanilla, and stir until the chocolate is melted. Cover and chill until the ganache is spreadable, about 2 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, make the cake: Heat the oven to 375 F. Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Grease a 9-by-1½-inch springform pan.
  4. Melt the chocolate in a microwave oven on medium-low or in a double boiler. Set aside to cool.
  5. Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the salt, pepper, espresso, cinnamon, vanilla and brown sugar, and beat until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
  6. Stir in the chocolate, add the flour and mix until blended. Fold in the ground almonds. Scrape the batter into the cake pan. Bake in the lower third of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a little moist batter on it and the cake is set, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven, slide off the sides of the pan and cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes. With a sharp, thin-bladed knife, separate the bottom of the pan from the cake. Once cooled, brush the cake gently with a pastry brush to remove any crumbs and cut the cake in half horizontally. Spread the ganache on the lower half of the cake and cover with the top layer.
  8. Prepare the glaze: Melt the chocolate in a microwave oven on medium-low or in a double boiler. Stir in the eggs, mixing well. Stir in the butter and corn syrup, remove the top of the pan from heat, and let the glaze thicken for about 5 minutes before pouring on the cooled cake and spreading over the top and sides with a metal spatula. Add an almond-sugar coating around side of the cake and place the whole almonds evenly around the top edge. Let the glaze set before serving with dulce de leche ice cream or softly whipped cream flavored with cinnamon and sugar, if desired.

Nutritional Data (per serving): Calories: 710; Cholesterol: 155 mg; Sodium: 130 mg; Fat: 50 g; Dietary Fiber: 6

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