This is no ordinary chocolate cake; the four layered tower is held together by a rich and velvety dark chocolate buttercream, laced with cinnamon and chilli, and topped with toasted fluffy marshmallows. The result is a subtle, intriguing and devilishly delicious combination of sugar, spice and heat. A Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake that promises seduction, fascination and admiration. On a separate note, it’s ridiculously fun setting fire to the marshmallows just prior to serving. Technically you should hold a flame torch/match over the marshmallows until they just start to toast. But obviously I got a bit overexcited by my new toy, and ended up frantically blowing out the flames that threatened to engulf my latest creation! Not sure I’m old enough to play with fire without supervision.
I served this monstrosity up to a hungry crowd to celebrate a friend’s birthday, and managed to take a solid slice and a half for myself. I’ve definitely sweetened my sweet tooth. The stamina I now have for ploughing my way through cream/butter/sugar really is astounding, I’m quite proud. Get baking and present this creation to the serious chocolate lover in your life. Try not to singe your eyebrows in the process, but even if you do a spoonful of this buttercream is so enrapturing, you won’t care about the battle scars.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake
Preparation Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 4 hours
Chocolate Cake, from Donna Hay
- 340 g unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
- 530 g brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 teaspoons baking soda
- 750 mL whole milk
- 670 g plain flour
- 6 teaspoons baking powder
- 150 g cocoa powder
Mexican Hot Chocolate Frosting (Swiss Meringue Buttercream)
- 10 large, fresh egg whites (300 g)
- 500 g white sugar
- 680 g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and cool, but not cold (leave out of fridge for 15-20 minutes before use)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 600 g dark chocolate
- 50 g good quality cocoa powder, sifted
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons chilli powder (or to taste)
- Preheat oven to 160°C/320°F fan-forced. Grease and line two 18 cm/7 inch cake tins.
- Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat on medium speed for 5-10 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla and beat to combine.
- Dissolve the baking soda in the milk. Sift the flour, baking soda and cocoa powder into a medium mixing bowl. Add the milk and dry ingredients all once to the butter mix, and beat until just combined.
- Pour the batter evenly into the two tins, and bake on the oven’s central rack for 60-70 minutes, or until a metal skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean but moist.
- Allow the cakes to cool in their tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks and leave to cool completely. Refrigerate if necessary, to speed up the cooling process. Once cooled, use a sharp serrated knife to remove the domed tops from the cakes, and cut each cake into 2 even layers. Brush off any excess crumbs, and refrigerate again until ready to frost.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Frosting (Swiss Meringue Buttercream)
- In a large heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, gently hand-whisk the egg whites and sugar until sugar has just dissolved and mixture appears white (about 5 minutes). Alternatively, use a candy thermometer to whisk until temperature of mixture reaches 70°C/160°F. Ensure you whisk gently but constantly, so that the egg whites do not cook.
- Transfer mixture to the large bowl of an electric mixer, and whisk on medium/low speed until meringue is very thick and glossy and holds its peaks, and the bowl feels neutral to touch. It is very important that you whisk until the bowl no longer feels warm, otherwise the butter will melt when added. Whisk for 10-15 minutes, and if the bowl is still warm, turn mixer off and allow meringue to cool further. This will ensure you do not over-whisk meringue. Double check the temperature of the meringue by turning off the mixer, and dipping a clean finger into the centre of the meringue. It should feel room temperature.
- Once cooled, swap whisk attachment for paddle attachment. With the mixer on its lowest possible speed, gradually add butter one cube at a time, beating for a few seconds between each addition. The buttercream will suddenly loosen and may appear thin or scrambled as you go, but just keep beating on low speed until all of the butter is incorporated.
- Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl either in the microwave, or over a pot of simmering water. Set aside until just cool enough to dip your finger into, this should take about 10 minutes.
- Once all of the butter is added to the buttercream, continue beating on a low speed for a minute or two. The buttercream should be thick and glossy. If it is too thin, the butter was too soft when added, so refrigerate buttercream for 15 minutes to firm up and then continue beating. If it appears too thick or scrambled (literally like scrambled eggs!) the butter was too cold when added, so keep beating on low speed until buttercream is smooth. Add the vanilla, salt, chocolate, cocoa powder, cinnamon and chilli, and beat to combine.
- Using a small offset spatula or butterknife, anchor the base layer to your plate with a spoonful of frosting. Frost the cake layers together using about 1 cup of frosting between each layer. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
- Scrape off any excess buttercream spilling out from between the layers, to smooth the outer surface of the cake. Frost a crumb coat over the entire cake. This is a very thin coat, and you should be able to see the cake through the buttercream. It forms a seal around the cake so you don’t get crumbs in your pretty frosting! Refrigerate the cake for another 10-15 minutes, until buttercream is firm to touch.
- Frost the outside of the cake by piling frosting on the top surface, and spreading it out over the sides of the cake. Add a little more frosting to the sides to even the surface. Refrigerate for another 20 minutes. You won’t need all of the buttercream, try and keep the coating under 1 cm thick. It’s helpful to have a little extra to touch up any botched areas later.
- Using a benchscraper or butterknife run under hot water, smooth the surfaces of the cake. Arrange the marshmallows on the surface of the cake, and refrigerate. Remove the cake from the fridge 1 hour before serving. When ready to serve, use a flame torch or matches to gently toast the marshmallows.
Store the cake covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days, but best served within 1-2 days of baking. Bring to room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving.
Note: The cake can be made up to 2 days in advance, and stored in an airtight container. Swiss meringue buttercream can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week, or frozen for up to 6-8 weeks. Before using it to frost your cake, allow it to cool to room temperature, then beat on medium speed using an electric mixture until it retains its silky, soft consistency. This can take up to 20 minutes, so be patient if the texture looks a little strange. For ease, if possible prepare the SMB immediately before you frost your cake.😏