Mexican Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

This Mexican chocolate cake is the richest, most moist chocolate cake you’ve ever had, kicked up with cinnamon and a hint of cayenne pepper! Easy to make as a sheet cake and topped with to-die-for cinnamon buttercream.

[Jump to Recipe]

A small square slice of Mexican chocolate cake with cinnamon frosting and chocolate sprinkles, set on a piece of parchment paper.

I am in grave danger of slipping into hyperbole in my efforts to describe this cake to you. (Note to self: finally make time to read this. It’s only sat on my bookshelf for 2.5 years, roughly the same amount of time that I’ve been a parent. Go figure.) So in an effort to avoid overstating things, I’ll stick to the fundamentals.

There’s chocolate. There’s frosting. There’s sugar — and butter. A pretty generous amount of each, but hey, it’s a sheet cake, so most likely getting divided quite a few ways. Or, uh, maybe just over quite a few days. Anyway, let’s not focus on that.

To recap, the important elements are: chocolate, frosting, and — spices.

Mexican Chocolate Cake

As I’m sure will obvious from reading any further, this is a wholly simplified, American-ized version of a “Mexican chocolate” cake.

Out of curiosity, I recently read a bit about what makes Mexican chocolate special. (I really enjoyed this article and found this a helpful ingredient guide, if you’re curious, also.) This research piqued my interest, but unfortunately, if there is any place in Belgium where one can buy authentic Mexican chocolate, this American girl has not found it. And moreover, you’ll be able to knock me over with a feather if I ever do. The Belgians have a lot of confidence in their own chocolate tradition, thankyouverymuch — and rightly so — so I’m not surprised there’s not much importing. I struggle even to find Cadbury eggs at Easter.

So, when we eventually find ourselves back on the left side of the Atlantic, I look forward to finding and trying some genuine Mexican chocolate. In the meantime, I’ve made do in baked goods by taking plain old unsweetened cocoa powder and adding a little spice myself – mostly cinnamon, a little cayenne. And my taste testers have registered zero complaints.

Bundt vs. Sheet Cake

This cake started with a bundt version I found on I Bake He Shoots, but I personally had a lot of trouble getting the bundt out of the pan intact, despite trying every trick in the book. Eventually I concluded the problem was basically that the cake was too moist to reliably slide out of my pan. (Maybe I need a better bundt pan? Who knows.)

But, given that a too moist cake is not a real problem, I didn’t want to change the cake make-up too much. As a result, I changed the technique, slightly, and form, to a simple 9″x13″ sheet cake. Perhaps less pretty than the bundt cake, but far less subject to unattractive crevasses, at least as easy to serve to a crowd, and most importantly, an invitation to add frosting. 🙂

Obviously you could add any frosting you desire, but I highly encourage you to try this simple cinnamon buttercream. My only regret is that I didn’t make a double batch of it, to squirrel away in a secret place for me to eat with a spoon on tough days.

Real Chocolate Sprinkles

And finally, some chocolate sprinkles on top, because, really, why not?

One of the things I will decidedly miss in the Belgian chocolate department is the ready availability of chocolate sprinkles that are actually chocolate, like those pictured above, not simply “chocolate-flavored.” (Whatever that means!) I might try to pack an entire suitcase full of these guys and bring back my own personal lifetime supply.

Whether you make this for Cinco de Mayo, another Mexican-inspired meal, or just your usual Saturday, I hope it earns rave reviews at your house as it does at mine!

Just look at those sweet little slices. They practically beg you to take a little forkful, don’t they?

Enjoy! ♥

If you’ve tried this cake or any other recipe on the blog, please remember to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing from you, and other readers will benefit from your experience!

A small square slice of Mexican chocolate cake with one bite removed.

14 votes

Print

Mexican Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 1 9x13" sheet cake

This Mexican chocolate cake is the richest, most moist chocolate cake you've ever had, but with a spicy twist! A little kick from cinnamon and a hint of cayenne pepper, then topped with a to-die-for cinnamon buttercream frosting.

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 227 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (85 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups (396 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup (170 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (340 grams) powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 C).
  2. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa and espresso powder, followed by the water and sugar, whisking each addition until smooth. Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, pepper, and chocolate chips; mix briefly and set aside.
  5. Return to the butter-chocolate mixture. Add eggs and vanilla, then whisk until they are fully incorporated. Gently stir in the flour mixture using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, then pour batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting.
  7. To make the frosting, beat butter until smooth using a stand or electric mixer. Add salt and vanilla, then beat again to incorporate.
  8. Add powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons milk, and beat until smooth and fluffy, starting on low speed to blend, then increasing the speed to high. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed to ensure everything is well-mixed, and adjust the consistency as needed by adding more milk or powdered sugar. Finally, beat in the cinnamon.
  9. Frost and garnish cake as desired.

Notes

This cake is very moist and therefore stays good for several days if kept tightly covered at room temperature.

Cake adapted from I Bake He Shoots; frosting adapted from King Arthur Flour.

Before You Go…

Don’t forget to PIN THIS to save the recipe for later. You can also subscribe to receive recipe updates each week by email, or follow me on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST, or Twitter to see a lot more delicious food and other happenings.

This Mexican chocolate cake is the richest, most moist chocolate cake you've ever had, kicked up with a little cinnamon and a hint of cayenne pepper! Easy to make as a sheet cake with cinnamon frosting, a perfect dessert for Cinco de Mayo. #cincodemayo #mexicanchocolate #sheetcake #cinnamonfrosting

37 Comments

  • Reply
    Ben|Havocinthekitchen
    May 3, 2018 at 1:28 am

    I think I’ve never tried authentic Mexican chocolate (except in form of hot chocolate). Actually, I agree – it’s rather hard to find it. This chocolate cake looks and sounds perfect to me! Love the addition of cinnamon ana cayenne, and this frosting is certainly a must!

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      May 5, 2018 at 1:49 pm

      Thanks so much, Ben – glad to know I’m not alone in my fruitless searching! 😉

  • Reply
    Sasha @ Eat Love Eat
    May 1, 2018 at 7:24 pm

    Oh I realllllly want a slice of this!! Mexican chocolate is such a good idea for a cake flavour! I’ve never had authentic Mexican chocolate though, being a UK-dweller – I need some in my life!

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      May 2, 2018 at 9:32 am

      Right!? I think I see a business opportunity here – I think more stores importing authentic Mexican foods could do AMAZINGLY well in Europe! So many people I know say that’s one big thing they’d like more of!

  • Reply
    Anne
    April 30, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    This looks like one delicious piece of cake!

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      May 1, 2018 at 5:50 pm

      Thank you, Anne!

  • Reply
    lauren
    April 30, 2018 at 2:22 am

    Oh wow, this looks so deliciously good! The thought of cinnamon and cayenne in chocolate cake is not something I would have considered but sounds delicious!

  • Reply
    Sara
    April 30, 2018 at 2:04 am

    What a delicious combination of flavors! I know this will be a big hit with my family!

  • Reply
    Femi. O
    April 30, 2018 at 1:33 am

    That chocolate looks so nice and moist and that frosting looks amazing. I’m not even such a fan of cinnamon but I’d totally consume this!

  • Reply
    Kitty
    April 29, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    I love Mexican hot chocolate, so I’m sure I’ll love this too! And you mean that Belgium has real chocolate sprinkles? I feel cheated now!

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      April 30, 2018 at 6:06 pm

      Yes!! Although a friend let me know on Facebook that you can buy them at World Market, too, if you have one in your area!

  • Reply
    Madi
    April 29, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    This cake sounds so incredible! I want a slice right now!

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      April 30, 2018 at 6:06 pm

      Thanks so much, Madi!

  • Reply
    Kim @ Berly's Kitchen
    April 29, 2018 at 2:58 am

    I could go for a slice, or two, or three of this cake!! It’s thick, chocolately, and has cayenne! Awesome!

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      April 29, 2018 at 4:19 pm

      Thanks so much, Kim! I’m afraid I might have had three myself by the time all was said and done! 😉

  • Reply
    Andrea @ The Petite Cook
    April 28, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    This looks SO delicious! I love that you added a bit of spices, I’m sure it complements the flavor incredibly well.

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      April 29, 2018 at 4:19 pm

      Thank you, Andrea, I really do like how the spices add to and bring out the chocolate flavor!

  • Reply
    Jordan
    April 28, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    This is my kind of cake. Regular chocolate is too boring for me – always gotta kick it up somehow. I love the cayenne and espresso flavor combo!

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      April 29, 2018 at 4:21 pm

      Thanks so much, Jordan! Yes, both the cayenne and the espresso really add to and bring out the chocolate!

  • Reply
    Michelle
    April 28, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    So I saw this on Instagram and had to check it out! WHAT A CAKE!! This is to do for, I could eat this all day long. Great recipe Monica x

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      April 29, 2018 at 4:22 pm

      Aw, thank you so much, Michelle, that’s very kind of you! I’m afraid I could eat it all day long, too, haha! 🙂 Thank you so much for your kind words!

  • Reply
    Eileen Kelly
    April 28, 2018 at 4:31 am

    Such a delicious chocolate cake that looks super moist and flavorful. I love the addition of cayenne pepper which adds the perfect kick. Then the yummy cinnamon frosting. A must make!

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      April 29, 2018 at 4:23 pm

      Thank you, Eileen! I love the kick and could eat the frosting in terrifying amounts, haha! 🙂

  • Reply
    Jenni
    April 27, 2018 at 12:56 am

    Love this cake! Adding cinnamon and a little spice to the frosting is a brilliant idea!

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      April 29, 2018 at 4:23 pm

      Thank you so much, Jenni!

  • Reply
    Terrie
    April 27, 2018 at 12:28 am

    This seems like a great recipe. The only ingredient that does not make sense is the cayenne pepper. I’m from Mexico and desserts do not have cayenne pepper.

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      April 29, 2018 at 4:25 pm

      Hi Terrie, thanks for your feedback! I can definitely see what you’re saying – as I’m sure you read, this is undoubtedly a highly Americanized “Mexican” chocolate cake. I would love to one day try a more authentic version, as well!

  • Reply
    Juli
    April 26, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    The ingredients in this cake sound amazing! I love that it contains both cinnamon and cayenne pepper! Pinning!

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      April 29, 2018 at 4:25 pm

      Thanks so much, Juli, I hope you try it and love it!

  • Reply
    Lynn | The Road to Honey
    April 26, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    What a terrific cake Monica! I can fully appreciate lack of availability of ingredients as I used to live in Kenya and it was very hard to come by international ingredients. Heck. . .there was even a sugar shortage when I lived there. But at least you have the worlds finest chocolate at your fingertips.

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      April 29, 2018 at 4:27 pm

      I can imagine – I’m sure the availability of most international products was far less in Kenya than we contend with today in Belgium! And yes, I am absolutely going to miss swimming in our sea of fine chocolate! Thanks for stopping by, Lynn!

  • Reply
    Jacqueline DiNuoscio
    April 26, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    That cinnamon frosting sounds delightful! This would be great for Cinco de Mayo!

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      April 29, 2018 at 4:27 pm

      Thanks so much, Jacqueline – as much as I love the cake itself, I think the frosting is actually my favorite part!

  • Reply
    kallee
    April 26, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    What a great blend of flavors. I love the thought of chocolate with a little surprise of heat in it.

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      April 29, 2018 at 4:28 pm

      Thank you, Kallee! The little heat really is a nice twist!

  • Reply
    Janette | Culinary Ginger
    April 26, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    I love a good chocolate cake and I’m loving the added spices too.

    • Reply
      Monica | Nourish and Fete
      April 29, 2018 at 4:28 pm

      Thank you, Janette!

    Leave a Reply

    2.5K Shares
    Share1
    Pin2.5K
    Yum39
    Reddit
    Flip
    Tweet