Becky, an old friend from high school came across a recipe for a Mexican spiced chocolate cupcake a few weeks ago, and passed the recipe along to me. I couldn’t wait to try them! A heavy dose of delicious spices are added to the batter to make them sing of spice. It’s funny how spice can be like that, isn’t it? Spicy doesn’t necessarily mean hot!
Ancho chile powder for a punch of smoke, cayenne pepper for a little bit of heat, and of course cinnamon to round everything out and kick the spice factor into the next stratosphere. These cupcakes were very different, but very well received. The first and foremost thing you taste is definitely the cinnamon – but the other additions are there, simmering on the back burner. The original recipe called for a ganache topping, but I opted for a buttercream instead, and loved the outcome!
If you have a hard time finding ancho chile powder, do what I do – and just grind your own. Dried peppers are a great thing to have on hand in your pantry. A ton of flavor, and they never go bad! If you’re looking for something different, try these cupcakes – they won’t disappoint!
Mayan Chocolate Cupcakes
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa
1/3 cup freshly brewed coffee
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/3 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cinnamon sticks, for garnish (optional)
For the frosting:
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp ancho chile powder
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (more or less to achieve desired consistency)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Line one 12-cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Combine the butter, cocoa, coffee and 1/3 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until the butter melts, about 1 minute. Whisk to combine.
Meanwhile, whisk the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, ancho powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cayenne in a large bowl. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla in a small bowl. Whisk the hot cocoa mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir in the sour cream mixture just to combine; don’t overmix.
Fill each cupcake liner about two-thirds of the way full with batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a rack in the tin for 10 minutes, and then remove from the tin. Cool on the rack completely.
To make the frosting, cream butter in an electric mixer on medium-speed until smooth and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Then add cocoa powder, ancho powder, and cinnamon and mix on low-speed until combined. Gradually add in the milk and powdered sugar, alternately, until combined. Then beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, another 3-5 minutes. (Add in more powdered sugar if consistency is too thin). Frost cupcakes as desired, and garnish with a half a cinnamon stick.
Yields: about 12 cupcakes