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.
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?
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!
Mexican Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Frosting
For the Cake
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1-2 Tablespoons instant espresso powder
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups 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 semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Frosting
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2-3 Tablespoons milk
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.
- 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.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, pepper, and chocolate chips; mix briefly and set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- To make the frosting, beat butter until smooth using a stand or electric mixer. Add salt and vanilla, then beat again to incorporate.
- 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.
- Frost and garnish cake as desired.