Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

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May is a busy month for me.  I am studying for my Step 2 exam at the end of this month, not to mention trying to figure out residency applications and all of that jazz.  I did manage a little trip home to California, however! I wanted to bring some cupcakes to an event that I went to, but had some difficulty brainstorming.  Honestly, I don't really remember where the idea for Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes came from, but once I picked it, I was pretty obsessed!

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I found a recipe from Martha Stewart for Mexican Chocolate pudding.  I guess I didn't really know what Mexican chocolate was because I picked up some chipotle chocolate at the store and my mom gave me a weird look and said "you need the chocolate in the yellow wrapper!"


I ended up going to a local Mexican grocery store, Cardenas.  It was amazing!  My friend, Grace, has a full review of Cardenas here.  I found the chocolate in the "yellow wrapper!"

ibarra chocolate II

It's chocolate with cinnamon.  Yum!  If you don't have a place that carries the appropriate chocolate near you, it's online here in bulk.  Nestle also sells Mexican chocolate under the name Abuelita, available in single bars here.  It smells delicious out of the box.  And comes in a cool shape! 

It is unbelievably easy to make pudding.  And this pudding recipe is very tasty, even if you don't want to use it in cupcakes!

Mexican Chocolate Pudding - Adapted from Martha Stewart Online

  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 tablespoons potato starch (or cornstarch)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 Ibarra chocolate disk (or approximately 3 ounces of Mexican chocolate)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  1. Combine cocoa powder, potato (corn) starch, sugar, salt, heavy cream, egg yolks, milk, and Mexican chocolate in a medium saucepan.
  2. Cook on medium-high speed, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture boils and thickens.  This will take about 5-8 minutes.
  3. Remove from head and pour into a medium bowl and immediately stir in the butter and vanilla.  Mix until completely combined.
  4. Cover directly with plastic wrap and put in a refrigerator until chilled (at least a few hours).

I didn't take a picture of the pudding.  Imagine chocolate pudding.  There, that's what it looks like. Now for the cupcakes....

yikes! stripes!

I used the above cupcake liners that I purchased at Cost Plus.  I like that they are festive, but in retrospect they weren't a good choice for these cuppies.  The cupcake liners came out greasy and translucent.  Either you need to double up on liners, or you need to go grease-free.

I made half of the cupcakes with cayenne pepper, and the other half without.  My mom and I couldn't really tell the difference between the two, and I ended up serving them without any sort of warning and no one mentioned anything.  I've therefore made the cayenne optional.  It maybe adds some depth to the chocolate and perhaps a little kick, depending on how much you use.  I had a bad experience with chipotle pepper and chocolate cupcakes as a first year medical student and I didn't want to mess this batch up!  The recipe is adapted from this recipe that I found on Epicurious.  I found my bourbon vanilla at Trader Joe's, but of course you can use just regular vanilla extract.

dia de los muertos... or dia de los cupcakes?
I collect Dia De Los Muertos figurines

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes - Adapted from chef Rebecca Rather - Makes 24

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • generous pinch of cayenne (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line cupcake pans with paper liners.
  2. Melt butter in a large size saucepan over low heat.
  3. Whisk in the cocoa until smooth.
  4. Add the water and whisk until smooth and then remove the mixture from heat.
  5. Separately whisk in the sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla , mixing well before adding the next ingredient.
  6. In a large bowl, add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and (optional) cayenne.  Whisk together the ingredients.
  7. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and whisk until just combined.
  8. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  9. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes in the tins, and then allow them to fully cool on a wire cooling rack.

I have to include another picture.  These rose so beautifully!  In Michigan we have a gas oven that does not cook evenly (we get angry at it quite often).  Using an electric oven was great... plus there were two of them! It made things go much, much faster :)

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Ok, enough looking at the naked cupcakes.  Time for the frosting!  I was debating between using a cinnamon whipped cream topping or cinnamon buttercream.  Buttercream won hands down.  Besides, it's already 90 degrees here....

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Cinnamon Buttercream - enough to generously frost 24 cupcakes

  • 3 1/2 - 4 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Cream butter on medium speed with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.
  2. Add the confectioner's sugar, 1/2 cup at a time to the butter.  Mix on medium speed until fully incorporated before adding the next 1/2 cup of sugar.  Add up to 3 1/2 cups.  Occasionally bring the mixer to high speed to allow the mixture to aerate (read: get fluffy!)
  3. Add the vanilla and mix well.
  4. Add 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla and mix well.  Taste the frosting.   Cautiously add the remaining cinnamon to taste, if necessary.
  5. You may add the rest of the confectioner's sugar if the frosting is too thin.  

Assembling your cupcakes!

1.  Use a paring knife or melon baller to cut out a piece of the cupcake.  I have used both, and a melon baller is much easier.  You will want the piece of cake that you remove to look somewhat like an inverted pyramid

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2. Use a tablespoon to scoop in some of that delicious pudding that you made.

cupcake filled with pudding

3.  Use a knife to trim the piece of cake that you removed from the cupcake so that it consists of a flat lid (feel free to eat the pyramid) and place it on top of the pudding.  It's now secret pudding.

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4.  Lastly, frost away!  I used old faithful Wilton 1M placed inside of a freezer zip-lock bag.

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I know you are all dying to know what it looked like inside. 

cut in half cupcake

These cupcakes are a lot of work.  I made the pudding the day before and everything else the day of the event.  Keep them in the refrigerator until about an hour and a half before serving.

Comments I received included "yum," "very moist," and "I don't like cinnamon but I like these cupcakes."  I thought that they were a heavenly blend of chocolate and cinnamon.  I will be bringing the rest of that Ibarra chocolate with me to Michigan :)

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Oh, and here's a little secret... I've never even had Mexican hot chocolate! ;-)


  1. These look so delicious!! I can't wait to try them and I'm glad your Mom knew to by Ibarra. It's the best. Btw, my mom told the teachers at Katherine Finchy about your blog, they love it!

  2. Aww that is so sweet of your mom! You'll have to let me know how to you like them :)

  3. AH ! these look amazing ! i'm totally making that cinammon buttercream some time !

  4. made something very similar and it was delicious!
    your cupcakes, once again look terrific :-)

  5. Looks delicious!! But for good mexican flavors I recommend you chocolate abuelita, that's one of the best commercial brands around here. But the day you taste original ancient mexican chocolate your mind will blow!



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