Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cake of the Week: Tex-Mex Chocolate Cake

Once upon a Wednesday, not too long ago, RoommateRachel and I decided to engineer an escape from the cold winter weather and fix a fiesta! Yes, we're about five months from Cinco de Mayo, but in my life Mexican food is always welcome. And Tex-Mex? Oh hello tacos and fajitas and chimichangas and most things Americans think of when they think Mexican food, yes please!

Dinner consisted of fajita filling-stuffed quesadillas on habanero-lime tortillas, black bean salad, and homemade salsa and guacamole of course. And how to end such a feast? With a Tex-Mexican Chocolate Cake!

You may be familiar with the Texas Sheet Cake -- a buttermilk-based culinary concoction the size of Texas (that's an exaggeration, but it is traditionally baked in an 18x13" jellyroll pan). Or perhaps you've made the acquaintance of one of the many chili powder-spiced Mexican chocolate desserts out there?

Well after a dinner of Tex-Mex, I saw only one possible course of action: unite the vastness of Texas with the heat of Mexico. Everyone wins! The frosting is to die for, the cake is moist and spring-y (not crumbly), and the chili powder gives a hint of something extra-special. Well. Let's just say that a group of 10 consumed this whole cake no problemo.

Recipe Notes: 

  • I don't have a jellyroll pan, so my cake was made in a 9x13" brownie pan. It worked fine, but it took a bit longer to cook.
  • This recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of chili powder. My chili powder, I'm sorry to say, does not have much kick, so my cake only hinted at an aftertaste of chili. If your chili powder is better/fresher than mine (it probably is), then maybe lay off the chili a bit...or expect a spicier cake! 

Tex-Mex Chocolate Cake

Cake Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 4 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter
  • 4 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray an 18x13 sheet cake pan, or a 9x13 pan. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, chili powder, and salt.
  3. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Once the butter is melted, whisk in cocoa powder. Add boiling water and turn up the heat to medium. Allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds and immediately turn off the heat. Pour the cocoa/butter mixture over flour mixture, and stir.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into chocolate/flour mixture. 
  5. Pour into prepared pan. If using an 18x13 pan, bake for 20 minutes; if using a 9x13 pan, bake for about 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. 
  6. When you take the cake out of the oven, make the frosting: In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Whisk in cocoa powder until thoroughly combined. Add milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar whisking until all ingredients are fully incorporated. 
  7. Pour over warm cake using a spatula to spread the frosting all over the cake. If your cake is particularly dome-y, then slowly pour the frosting in the middle of the cake and let it run towards the outsides. 
  8. Let cool completely before serving at room temperature. Enjoy!