Chili Spiced Chocolate Cake

chocolate ancho cake resizedI love celebrating my birthday. The gathering of friends and family around a big dinner table to enjoy the meal of my choice and a delicious dessert of birthday cake with candles and singing. Oh it’s so much fun!

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My birthday cake of choice is an angel food cake with berries and whipped cream. I’ve picked it every year since I was a kid. But this year, I decided to change it up. I was craving a rich decadent chocolate cake. This cake in particular is made without flour to create a dense fudgy cake that fulfills any chocolate craving. It also pairs bitter chocolate harmoniously with the sweet fruity notes in spicy ancho chili pepper to create a perfectly deep chocolatey treat. Garnished with a dollop of citrusy lime whipped cream, this Chili Spiced Chocolate Cake is the perfect dessert to impress guests or a special birthday person.

Indulge and enjoy!

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Chili Spiced Chocolate Cake
Makes an 8 inch cake

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped                                                                      1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes                                                                            3/4 cup granulated sugar                                                                                                   3 large eggs                                                                                                                    1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder                                                                                  1-1/2 Tbsp ancho chili powder – no need to be nervous about the amount of ancho chili powder added, the rich chocolate will mellow out its spicy flavour

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Butter an 8 inch round cake pan. Line the bottom of the buttered pan with parchment paper and grease with butter.

In a double boiler or heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt chocolate with butter until smooth. Whisk in sugar. Add eggs and whisk well.

Sift cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and sprinkle with ancho chili powder. Whisk until just combined. Pour into prepared cake pan.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the top of the cake has formed a crust.

Transfer to a cooling rack and cool for 5-10 minutes. Invert cake onto a serving plate and let cool completely. Sprinkle with cocoa powder. Serve each slice of decadent cake with a dollop or two of lime whipped cream.

Lime Whipped Cream

1 cup whipping cream                                                                                                   Zest from 1 lime                                                                                                                   1 Tbsp icing sugar

Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together the whipping cream, lime zest and icing sugar until light and fluffy.

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Heart Shaped Cucumbers and Chocolate Spiced Cookies

While grocery shopping the other day, I was surprised to find heart shaped cucumbers. That’s right, heart shaped cucumbers. The cucumbers are grown in heart shaped molds and look similar to regular ones, but when you slice them you get mini heart shaped slices. What a fun way to serve up a simple cucumber salad for your loved ones on Valentine’s.   

Simple Asian Cucumber Salad
Makes 4-6 servings.

2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp sweet thai chili sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
¼ tsp sugar
a pinch of salt
¼ -½ tsp sambal oelek or crushed chili pepper
1 english cucumber or 4 mini heart shaped cucumbers

In a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, sweet thai chili sauce, sesame oil, sugar, pinch of salt and sambal oelek. Set aside.

Using a mandolin or sharp knife, thinly slice cucumbers. Just before serving gently toss cucumbers with dressing. This salad is best served right away.

We think Valentine’s is best enjoyed with some good quality chocolate and I’m sure you’d agree too. I also like to celebrate Valentine’s by baking chocolate goodies for my friends and family. This spiced chocolate crackle cookie has been getting rave reviews and requests to bake more, so we’re sharing the recipe so you can enjoy it too. 

Spiced Chocolate Crackle Cookies
Borrowed from McCormick Gourmet website.
Makes about 40 cookies.

12 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate, divided
¾ cup flour
2 tsp roasted cinnamon (regular cinnamon can also be used)
1 tsp ground ancho chili pepper
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Melt 8 ounces of the chocolate in a double broiler. Set aside. Coarsely chop remaining 4 ounces of the chocolate. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine flour, roasted cinnamon, ancho chili pepper, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Beat butter and sugars together using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and mix well. Add melted chocolate and beat until well blended. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Stir in chopped chocolate. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons about 1½ inches apart on prepared baking sheets.

Bake about 10 minutes or just until cookies are set and slightly cracked on top. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Happy Valentine’s!