Desserts

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake

When we have a family dinner or get-together, we all like to contribute something to the menu.  My grandmother often volunteers to make or bring a dessert (she’s got quite a sweet tooth!).  At one family dinner, she showed up with these Mexican Hot Chocolate Mini Brownies from the bakery section of our local grocery store.  They were delicious!  So of course, I looked at the ingredient list (which was about a mile long and contained things that I couldn’t pronounce, let alone identify) and decided that I wanted to find a way to make a homemade version on my own!

 

After some online research and a few test batches, I’m excited to share a version that is just as delicious as the ones that we tried at our family dinner but uses whole wheat flour and maple syrup (you could also substitute honey) in place of refined flours and sugars and does not contain any added flavors or preservatives.  Win!

 

The idea behind a Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake is that you take the flavors from a Mexican hot chocolate (which is traditionally made with cinnamon and some sort of hot pepper to kick it up a notch) and bake it into a very moist chocolate cake.  My version also contains coffee so I guess it’s sort of a Mexican Mocha Cake. 

 

During my online research, I happened upon the idea of baking cake batter in pint-sized Mason jars so that you can serve them as individual servings.  I thought it was such a fun idea, especially when serving kids!  One night, when we had an extra kid sleeping over at our house, we made a batch of these cakes and all enjoyed them on the sofa while having a movie night.  Fun! 

 

[You could also make this recipe in a traditional cake pan but, to be honest, I didn’t try that out during my recipe testing so you’ll have to let me know what time and temperature you use if anyone tries it at home.  I would recommend keeping a lower temperature than most cake baking so that it stays moist.]

 

UPDATE: We made this recipe in a 9×13″ pan for family vacation earlier this month and it turned out great!  We baked it at 325°F for 40 minutes.  Still nice and moist! 

 

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake in a Jar
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Ingredients
  1. 1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
  2. ½ cup cocoa powder
  3. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  4. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  7. ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  8. 2 eggs
  9. 1 ½ cups maple syrup
  10. 1 cup buttermilk
  11. 1 cup coffee, at room temperature
  12. ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  13. 1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, maple syrup, buttermilk, coffee, coconut oil, and vanilla.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, a third at a time, whisking to incorporate in between each addition.
  5. Arrange ten 8-ounce or pint-sized Mason jars on a baking sheet and carefully pour ½ cup of the batter into each jar. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool slightly so that you can safely handle the jars. Hand out the jars and some spoons and enjoy!
Notes
  1. Makes 10 individual cakes.
  2. (*TIP: put 1 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup and add milk to the 1 cup line and let sit for 5 minutes to make your own buttermilk from scratch!)
  3. (If desired, this recipe can also be made in a 9x13" pan. Follow recipe as described and pour batter into greased 9x13" pan. Bake at 325°F for 40 minutes. Enjoy!)
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/
red, black, and white currants picked from our bushes

Currant Pie

 

Several years ago, when Joe was really into learning about permaculture and increasing the productivity of our little woodland homestead, he purchased about 30 fruit trees and bushes from an online nursery to add to our landscaping.  We spent one weekend planting them all over the place, some of them in the contour beds that Joe installed in the yard to help with water runoff, some of them along the edges where our yard stops and the forest begins, some of them in garden beds next to the house, and some of them in the raised beds in the garden. 

 

Many of the trees didn’t make it – which is always a disappointing and disheartening part of homesteading or gardening – but several varieties seemed to take really well to our rocky soil and our harsh growing environment (cold winters, not much sun, deer munching on everything they can find, three boys running and biking all over everything…).  One of the top performers are the currant bushes, which produce red, black, and white berries at this time of year.

 

3 currant bushes along tree line on our propertyred currants in Julyblack currant hanging on bush in July

 

Some others that are thriving (or at least surviving) are gooseberries and goumi berries.  I haven’t figured out what to do with those yet and, to be honest, we’ve never had enough to have extras after the boys are done harvesting and eating their share straight from the bushes.  But maybe there will be another post about those berries some day!

 

Last weekend, Joe and our oldest son went outside to see how many currants they could find on our 3 bushes and came back with 2 quarts!  And when I asked the kids what we should make with them, they all voted for currant pie!  So here is the recipe that we followed, which is from one of my favorite seasonal cookbooks: Simply in Season.  We chose to use a crumble topping but you could also make this with a second crust on top. 

 

[We were pressed for time and I’m also following a limited gluten diet at the moment so we used a premade gluten-free pie crust for the one in the picture.  When we make homemade pie crusts, we use this recipe from The Prairie Homestead.  We use whole wheat flour and lard from a local pig farmer.]

 

Currant Pie
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Ingredients
  1. 9-inch pastry shell
  2. 1 cup cane sugar or honey
  3. 3 Tablespoons wheat flour
  4. 3 cups currants
  5. 1/3 cup water
Crumb Topping
  1. 1 cup wheat flour
  2. 1/2 cup cane sugar
  3. 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  4. 3 Tablespoons butter
  5. 1 Tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Prepare your pie crust (either homemade or premade).
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  3. In the bottom of the crust, sprinkle a small amount of the sugar. Mix remaining sugar and flour together. Then add the currants and water. Pour mixture into the pie crust.
  4. Either cover with a second crust into which vent holes have been made or prepare crumb topping as described below.
  5. For the crumb topping: Mix together flour, sugar and nuts (if using). Cut in butter and oil using two knives to make a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle crumb topping over pie filling.
  6. Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and continue baking for 25-30 minutes. Enjoy!
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/