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Mexico On My Plate: Chocolate Cake

Mexico On My Plate: Chocolate Cake

Nancy Lopez-McHugh incorporates memories of Mexican Chocolate Caliente in this delicious chocolate cake.
By Nancy Lopez-McHugh

I was born in Mexico. When I miss Mexico I daydream about it, which happens often. I think about my extended family living there, and wonder what changes have occurred on the street I grew up playing in. I think about my little hometown, and all those childhood memories. Often times my thoughts also turn to food memories.

One of my favorite Mexico food memory is breakfast. I can so clearly remember sitting in my mom’s sunny kitchen, surrounded by my sisters and mother, eating our desayuno (breakfast). Our breakfast would vary from day to day, but my favorite breakfast meal was a mug full of Mexican hot chocolate. Along side the hot chocolate we would be served our choice of sweet bread or bolillos fresh from the bakery. In between sweet warm sips of  chocolate I would dip my bread into the mug. Then put the soft wet bread in my mouth to savor the sweetness and cinnamon flavors as it melted away. Pure heaven.

Mexican hot chocolate, and chocolate in general, is quite different from ones found in Europe and the US. The chocolate used in Mexico for hot chocolate drinks are sold in tablets that are individually wrapped and stacked inside packages. These tablets are made with ground cacao nibs, sweetened with sugar and spiced with cinnamon. And depending on the brand or recipe followed other spices may also be added. The chocolate tablet texture is grainy due to the granulated sugar. Milk is heated and the tablets added, they melt and the hot chocolate is mixed until frothy then served warm.

Even now as an adult, and far away from Mexico, I love to reminisce of those mornings with a warming mug of chocolate caliente. But I also love finding new ways or recipes to incorporate this favorite treat of mine. This time I wanted to taste the chocolate heaven in a slice of cake. In a way it was like wanting to combine the chocolate with the texture of the bread I used to dip into it. I wanted to taste a little bit of Mexico in every bite.

Mexican Chocolate Cake For Two
3/4 cup or 120 g a.p. flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

2 oz or 60 g Mexican chocolate tablet, like Abuelita or Ibarra brands
large pinch ground chile powder, adjust to taste

1/4 cup or 60 ml melted butter or sunflower oil
1/4 cup or 60 g raw cane sugar
1/3 cup or 70 ml + 2 tbsp cold whole milk
1 medium egg

small cake pan, 6′ in or 15 cm
powdered sugar and berries for decorating

1. Preheat oven to 175c or 350f, grease the pan and dust with flour. Roughly chop the chocolate. Place chocolate in a double boiler to melt. As the chocolate begins to melt add 1 tbsp of cold milk, mixing consistently until chocolate has completely melted and a smooth consistency has been achived. Remove from heat, add chile powder mix and set aside.

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2. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and set aside. Pour the remaining cold milk into the melted chocolate, mix until well combined. Next add the sugar and melted butter or oil, mixing until well incorporated. Use a whisk to beat in the egg, until lightly frothy.

3. Pour the dry ingredients, flour mixture, into the wet chocolate ingredients. Fold in until combined, shouldn’t take too long. Pour the cake batter into the greased baking dish. Bake in center of oven for 30 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Allow to cool before placing on cake dish. Before dusting with powdered sugar make sure the cake is completely cooled. Dust with powdered sugar as desired and decorate with your favorite berries.

When it comes to chocolate there is no need to persuade people to give it a try. Everyone loves chocolate, right? I mean what’s not to love. I think most of us are chocolate fiends at heart, wouldn’t you agree? This Mexican girl sure is.

Like the Mexican Indian blood running through my veins so does xocol?tl, or chocolate. Proudly I can say that my ancestors would be proud of me for continuing the love, and rituals around our beloved chocolate. This little cake took me back to Mexico, it satisfied the very craving I had. It is perfectly soft and moist, without being greasy – I hate greasy cakes, and the outer layer had a slightly crisp texture. I could taste the unique flavor of the chocolate tablets, the cinnamon and way in the back as an after tone the hint of chile pepper. Perfect, just the way I wanted it. Buen provecho!

Check out these chocolate recipes on Honest Cooking:
Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes
Chocolate Cake For Special Occasions
Thai Bird Chili Truffles – Deliciously Spicy Chocolate

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