Saturday, February 13, 2016

Mexican chocolate cake with whipped ganache and candied serrano peppers

vegan mexican chocolate cake with whipped ganache and candied serrano peppers

Here’s one way to say I love you: bake this cake.

Or buy it. If you’re one of the people going to the “chocolate auction” at my mother’s church tomorrow, feel free to skip the kitchen and purchase this very cake for yourself. I hate you.*

I’ve wanted to make this cake ever since I saw a similar version posted on Baking A Moment: a luscious, four-layer chocolate cake frosted with richly flavored chocolate ganache and topped with—get this—candied serrano peppers. Yeah, it was the peppers that sold me. I hadn’t seen such a weirdly delicious-sounding idea in a while, so obviously I had to try it.

Which I did. Finally.

“Mexican chocolate” is a flavor that you often see tossed around in reference to baked goods with chocolate plus cayenne and maybe plus coffee and cinnamon as well. But this cake doesn’t take the label lightly. You’ve got cinnamon, espresso, and cayenne in the cake itself (something I added at the last minute), plus the cinnamon, nutmeg, Kahlua, cayenne, and vanilla in the frosting, a marvelous quintet of flavors that makes for a totally addictive ganache. Not that I would know. *coughs*

Yeah, I totally didn't eat like half of the ganache before it got anywhere near the cake.

And then, of course, there is the candied serrano. Serrano peppers, it turns out, originated from the mountains of Mexico—which is perfectly fitting for the Mexican-inspired theme of this cake. The candied pepper slices were pretty good, too. They were kinda...spicy. And sweet.


My only regret is that I didn’t get to try a piece of this cake. But I can assure you it is quite good, because I, for one, know exactly what the spiced cake tastes like (cake scraps are a blessing, I tell you), and I also enjoyed my fair share of the ganache with a few serrano slices on the side. And I’m sure you can picture what the interior looks like. Three layers of chocolate cake sandwiched with some seriously fluffy chocolate ganache. Simple stuff.

Anyway, here’s the recipe.


Mexican chocolate cake with whipped ganache and candied serrano peppers

Adapted from Baking A Moment and this cake


Chocolate cake

28 grams • cocoa powder • 1/3 cup

2 grams • espresso powder • 1 teaspoon

112 grams • semisweet chocolate, finely chopped • 4 ounces

244 grams • boiling water • 1 cup

8 grams • vanilla extract • 2 teaspoons

244 grams • nondairy milk • 1 cup

6 grams • apple cider vinegar • 1 ½ teaspoons

24 grams • flaxseed meal • 3 tablespoons

150 grams • water • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons

112 grams • coconut oil, softened • ½ cup

110 grams • vegetable oil • ½ cup

230 grams • dark brown sugar • 1 cup

200 grams • granulated sugar • 1 cup

308 grams • cake flour • 2 ¼ cup

4 grams • baking soda • 1 teaspoon

3 grams • salt • ½ teaspoon

1 gram • ground cayenne • ½ teaspoon

1 gram • cinnamon • ½ teaspoon

Whipped ganache

340 grams • semisweet chocolate chips • 12 ounces

30 grams • coffee liqueur (like Kahlua) • 2 tablespoons

8 grams • cinnamon • 1 tablespoon

4 grams • vanilla extract • 1 teaspoon

1 gram • nutmeg • ½ teaspoon

1 gram • ground cayenne • ½ teaspoon

360 grams • coconut cream (the fatty part of full-fat coconut milk that rises to the top after chilling) • 
1 ½ cups

Candied serrano peppers

200 grams • granulated sugar • 1 cup

245 grams • water • 1 cup

2 serrano peppers, sliced and seeded


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 6-inch round baking pans and line the bottoms with parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, espresso powder, and chocolate. Pour boiling water in and stir until chocolate is melted and the mixture is homogenous. Stir in vanilla extract. Once mixture is cooled, add milk and vinegar.

Whisk together flaxseed and water in a measuring cup. Let stand until thickened.

Place coconut oil and vegetable oil in the bowl of an electric stand mixer; beat until light and fluffy. Add dark brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat until creamy. Add flaxseed mixture and beat to combine.

Combine cake flour, baking soda, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon. Add to stand mixer in three additions, alternating with the chocolate mixture. Beat only for a few seconds after each addition, mixing just until combined.

Divide between baking pans and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 35 to 38  minutes. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the whipped ganache, start by placing the chocolate chips, liqueur, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and cayenne in a large bowl. Heat the coconut cream in a small saucepan on the stove until it is steaming and bubbles are forming around the edges. Pour the cream over the chocolate and spices and allow to sit for a few minutes. Whisk until smooth.

Allow to chill and firm up to the consistency of pudding, about 2 hours. Once chilled, place in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and whip on high speed until slightly paler in color and fluffy. Keep at room temperature until ready to frost.

To make the candied serrano peppers, place the water, sugar, and sliced peppers in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let peppers cool completely in syrup. Drain candied peppers once ready to use, perhaps reserving the syrup for another use (though even I don’t know what that might be).

To finish your cake, simply frost the three layers with whipped ganache. Decorate with dollops of ganache and your candied peppers to finish.


So beautiful. I might cry.

* Well, I don’t actually hate this person who will theoretically buy my cake, but I do deeply resent them for taking my precious baked good away from me. So there’s that.

For more amazing Valentine’s Day-worthy cake recipes, click these links. You know you want to.

Better than sex cake from scratch. Heh heh heh. I really am seven years old.

Tropical beach birthday cake. Something sunny in the middle of winter.

Gluten-free chocolate layer cake. You could easily make a gluten-free version of this cake using the quinoa cake base in that post.


  1. Sensational cake and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of the candied serrano peppers!

    1. Thanks! The candied peppers are so strange but so good :)

  2. Vavavoom!
    what a cake, and the ganache looks fantasmic! :D The chillies intrigued me too, this whole combination sounds amaziiiiinng! x

    1. Thanks Jules! The ganache is my favorite part TBH :P

  3. Wow, what a gorgeous looking cake!! Sweet and spicy, I love it. Also, I totally agree. One of my favorite things about making a cake is having all the cake scraps/extra icing :)

    1. Thank you Cathleen! Extra frosting is the best :)

  4. What a delicious looking cake! I love the little spice mixed with the chocolate!

  5. I remember seeing Allie's cake and having the exact same thought. I love what you did with the idea!

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