The cake that was meant to be
We are not crazy. Well, at least not that crazy. In life there are things that for some reason are strategically and timely put in front of us. It’s the reality. Things that we didn’t look for or ask for, yet the universe manages to put them in our way. The inner dreamer hidden behind our hearts falls in love with them, after all, each of them is a new gift in our lives. We flirt with the idea of loosing our sense of logic and fall for what supposedly is there for us. We spend hours, even days wondering what the purpose was and what the universe was thinking. Those things are not always the most convenient for us. Sometimes they hurt. A lot. Other times they bring joy into our story. But nevertheless, they are our gifts. Ours. Therefore we want to keep them all, even in the farthest corner of our souls, we never know when we may need to dust off one of them and use it in real life.
I was meant to make this cake. It was one of the things the universe has gifted me lately and fortunately it’s one of the happy things. I had been thinking for a while now about this idea of a Mexican hot chocolate cake for no apparent reason. I don’t love hot foods. I have no relation with Mexico whatsoever. Foolishly I gave my back to my traditional morning hot chocolate for a trendy artisan local coffee. But the universe kept giving me hints until I got the idea. I even bought this lovely cake pan for the recipe without knowing when I was going to make it. So it was kind of surreal when I was flicking through this baking magazine called Bake from Scratch and suddenly saw the tittle I’ve been having in my head for weeks and a picture with exactly the same cake pan I’ve been keeping in it’s shopping bag since I bought it.
It was obvious it was time for me to bake it. So I did. The result was absolutely amazing. I’m loving the idea of baking with coconut oil and coconut milk. I made a carrot cake a few weeks ago and it was super moist. This cake is no exception; it turned out moist, tender with a surprising delicate crumb for a Bundt cake. I also used the traditional Mexican cacao to add complexity to the chocolate flavor and not leave it in one note using just cocoa powder. I have never been a fan of changing the oven temperature in the middle of baking. I prefer to adjust accordingly in terms of time and heat. Still I had to do it with this cake. It needs to be baked in 325° so it keeps its moisture and ends up very soft, but the center will be a bit raw even after 45 to 50 minutes. I increased the temperature to 350° for 5 to 10 additional minutes. You have to check the cake to decide how more time it might need. The first time I made the cake it only needed 10 minutes extra, 1 hour in total. The second time I had to leave it there for almost 15 minutes extra and rotate the pan. Check the cake after 50 minutes.
The other gift for me is that with this recipe I understood the use of a syrup to soak the cake. I didn’t believe in that. But the reality is that it is very much needed. It helps to keep the cake moist even after a couple of days. Mine was kind of an accident. I let the syrup boil rapidly and then stirred after removing from the heat, which is a no-no because the sugar will crystalize. I still brushed the cakes with it and the result was this thin lovely sugar crust around the cake.
I hope the readers of this recipe find it because they stumble upon it, then get inspired and decide it is one of the things they’re not going to keep in the far corner of the soul. It will be much prettier as a centerpiece in you Easter table. In this Holy Week use it as a symbol for a new beginning where you know you are not crazy, you are just embracing what’s crossing in front of you.
1. The original recipe calls for ground ancho chili pepper, but it mentioned chili powder was a good substitute. Since that was what I had in hand I used it and, even though the cake is not spicy hot, it imparted a nice warmness to the flavor.
2. I also added a bit of cinnamon to marry the intensity of the chili powder with the sweetness of the rest of the ingredients.
4. I used coconut oil instead of butter and coconut milk instead of regular milk.
5. Even if I’m not a fan of changing the oven temperature while baking, this cake really benefits from being baked at a nice low 325° temperature and increasing to 350° the last 10 to 5 minutes to make sure the center is completely cooked.
Mexican hot chocolate bundt cake
Total time - 1 hour & 20 minutes Active item - 15 minutes
Equipment - blender, stand-up mixer or handheld electric mixer, 10 cups+ Bundt cake pan
Unbleached all purpose flour – 2 ¾ cups
Unsweetened cocoa powder – ½ cup
Baking soda – 1 Tsp
Chili powder – 2 Tsps
Ground cinnamon – ¼ Tsp
Pure cacao Mexican chocolate, 70% dark – 2.7 oz, 77g
Water – 2 TBSP
Coconut oil – 1 cup
Raw sugar (pulsed a few seconds in a food processor, a Nutri-bullet or small blender, see notes) – 2 cups
Eggs – 4
Fine sea salt – 1 Tsp
Vanilla paste or extract – 1 TBSP
Coconut milk – 1 ½ cup
Coconut cooking or baking spray
Dulce de leche glaze
Dulce de leche – 3 TBSP
Coconut milk – 2 TBSP
Place oven rack in the third tier of the oven. Preheat oven to 325°. Spray cake pan with cooking or baking spray.
In a medium bowl combine very well the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, chili powder and cinnamon using a whisk.
In a small bowl break the pure Mexican chocolate disk and pour in the water. Heat in the microwave in 10 seconds intervals until the chocolate melts and you can form a paste.
Place the coconut oil and sugar in the bowl of a stand up mixer and mix with the whisk attachment for 5 minutes in medium speed (level 4). With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time, waiting until one is just combined to add the next. Whisk about 30 seconds more. Add in the salt and vanilla and mix a couple of seconds to integrate. Add the chocolate paste and let it mix for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Stop the mixer, add in ⅓ of the flour mixture and mix just until barely combined. Pour in half of the coconut milk and mix a bit more. Repeat the process with ⅓ of the flour mix, the remaining coconut milk and finish with the remaining flour mix. Mix just until all the flour seems well combined. Transfer to the prepared bundt cake pan.
Bake for 50 minutes, then increase oven temperature to 350° and bake for 5 to 10 extra minutes. During the last 5 minutes check the doneness of the cake by inserting a large toothpick through the crumb. If the toothpick comes out dry it’s done. If it comes out with a bit of raw batter, bake for an extra 3 to 5 minutes (see my comments on baking time on the notes).
Retire from oven and let it cool down for a few minutes. Using a large wood stick poke semi deep holes through the bottom of the cake. Brush about half of the syrup (recipe below) through it. Wait 10 to 15 minutes. Turn the cake into a large plate and carefully poke more holes through the top. Brush the remaining syrup through the top and the sides of the cake. Let it rest 10 minutes more.
In the meantime mix the dulce de leche with the coconut milk until a soft gooey glaze forms. Use a bit more of dulce de leche or coconut milk to adjust to your preferred consistency. Pour over the cake. Cut and enjoy warm!
Total time - 5 minutes
Raw sugar – ¾ cup
Water – ⅔ cup
Vanilla paste or extract – ¼ Tsp
Fine sea salt – ¼ Tsp
Cinnamon sticks (optional) – 2, or a pinch of ground cinnamon
Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower down the heat to simmer and boil for 2 minutes. Give it a stir and boil for an extra 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool down a bit before brushing the cake.