Chili Chocolate Bourbon Cake
In the early 1500s, Montezuma in his Mexico City palace drank chocolate daily, usually with red chili in it. Apparently the king knew that chili, in small amounts, amplifies and enriches the taste of chocolate. It appears that he had quite the palate. We’re no experts on pre-Columbian history, but we’re pretty sure Montezuma would’ve drank bourbon too if he could’ve. He hits us as that kind of guy. Now imagine if he could’ve captured the flavors of chili, chocolate and bourbon all in one drink. How cool would that have been? But alas, he didn’t. Enter the modern culinary arts.
We all know how great chocolate cake is, and since Montezuma has taught us how to boost the flavor of chocolate with a little chili, why not throw a little bourbon into the mix? Yes, why not? Thus, we present to you a glorious recipe for Chili Chocolate Bourbon Cake. This cake fires on all cylinders; slightly spicy, rich with chocolate and topped with flavorful bourbon. It raises the culinary bar a few notches. Your loved ones will be impressed with your bravado and skill when they taste the chili-chocolate combination. They’ll also be impressed with your practicality when the ever-so-wonderful bourbon frosting hits their lips. Amid all the accolades, don’t forget to raise a glass with one of our unique whiskey stones in a toast to yourself. Montezuma would be proud.
Chili Chocolate Cake
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened, non-alkalized cocoa powder
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons medium ground red chili
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the center of the oven. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with circles of parchment or waxed paper. Lightly dust the sides of the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.
2. For best results, use a mixer with a wire whip attachment. Combine the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa and beat on low speed until well mixed.
3. In a medium saucepan, cook 1 cup of the water with the chili powder over medium heat until simmering. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
4. Add the softened butter to the dry mixture and beat thoroughly on medium-low speed. The mixture should be grainy. Raise the speed to medium and gradually add the remaining cup of water and the buttermilk. Add the eggs on at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Slowly add the hot water/chile mixture and continue to beat just until well combined–be sure not to overbeat. Pour the mixture into the pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centers of the cake comes out clean.
6. To cool, set the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Then turn the cakes out onto the rack, remove the paper from the bottom, and immediately reinvert so that the risen tops don’t flatten. Let sit until completely cool before frosting.
Chocolate Bourbon Frosting
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup unsweetened non-alkalized cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- 1 1/2 pounds confectioners sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon
- 3 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1. Combine the butter and cocoa in a large saucepan and melt over medium heat. Stir in the buttermilk. Add the confectioner’s sugar a little at a time, stirring with a wired whisk between additions. Stir in the bourbon and vanilla. The frosting should stiffen as it cools. When it has reached a spreadable consistency, assemble the cake.
2. If necessary, trim the tops of the cakes so they are level. Place one of the cake layers onto a 9-inch round cardboard cake circle. Spread 1 cup of the chilled frosting over the cake layer. Sprinkle 1 cup of the chopped walnuts over the frosting. Place the second layer of the cake onto the frosted base. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. Finish the top of the cake by holding the spatula at a slight angle and making several strokes to smooth the top. To decorate the cake, press the remaining walnuts against the lower half of the side of the cake and on top of the cake.
Note: If you like very hot food, use the 2 Tbls. recommended in this recipe. If your palate is less accustomed to hot food, try using a dried ancho chili for a sweeter flavor. Seed and crush an ancho chili in a blender and use 2-3 tsps. of the ground chile in your chocolate chili cake.