My Mexican-themed party is rapidly approaching, so I tried a second dessert recipe yesterday. After last week’s disappointment with Everyday Food’s Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies (they’re just not made for high-altitude baking!), I was so excited to discover that my Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes were a-ma-zing. I feel like I cheated a bit because I used box cake mix as a base again (like with the Margarita Cupcakes), but I did add spices and I made my own icing. I was inspired by The Perfect Pantry’s “Diablo” Cupcakes and Billy Reece’s Chocolate Buttercream; here’s my final recipe for the cake and the icing.
(Note: This recipe has been adjusted for high altitude. If you want to make it at a lower elevation, just add the spices to the cake mix and follow the instructions on the box. No adjustments are necessary for the icing.)
Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes about 3 dozen regular cupcakes or 6 dozen minis
1 box (18.25 oz.) Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Devil’s Food cake mix
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon New Mexico red chile powder
Pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 large eggs (room temperature)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a light-colored metal muffin pan (regular size or mini) with cupcake liners.
Pour the dry cake mix into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the cinnamon, chile powder, salt, pepper, and flour. Add the water, oil, and eggs and mix with an electric mixer at low speed until moistened. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. (Use a cookie scoop to make this easier.) Bake full-size cupcakes for 17 minutes or mini cupcakes for 11 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean). Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely before icing.
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled but still liquid (chocolate chips are OK)
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons New Mexico red chile powder, plus a pinch for sprinkling
5 cups powdered sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth and creamy (about 3 minutes). With mixer on low speed, add chocolate until just combined. Add milk, vanilla, cinnamon, chile powder, and powdered sugar; mix on medium until well combined, being careful not to overmix. Ice cooled cupcakes and sprinkle a pinch of chile powder on top.
These cupcakes are absolutely heavenly! I know it seems strange to put chile powder and pepper into baked goods, but the flavor combination really works. I felt like I could really taste the cinnamon, but the chile powder came through more as a bit of heat in the aftertaste. The cake was moist, light, and fluffy; the icing was smooth, creamy, and had a rich chocolate flavor. As much as I enjoyed the Margarita Cupcakes, I think these will be the star of the party.
TIPS: Technically, you could probably use any boxed cake mix, but I really feel Duncan Hines makes a superior product. The cupcakes crowned beautifully and the cake texture was fantastic.