Mexican Chocolate Chili Mousse Cake

Mexican Chocolate Chili Mousse Cake
Serves 12 - this is a VERY rich cake

As promised -- here's the recipe for the FABULOUS chocolate chili cake. It's an extremely convoluted recipe -- READ IT all the way through before you start. I have also posted a few comments as I went along. The last time I made this, I used 8" cake pans and made 3 layers with the batter -- then I split them as directed to make a total of 6 layers, more like a torte. Hoo boy -- I used skinny sticks like you put meat on to grill to skewer it all together until it set up, then dealt with the ganache over that after removing the sticks.

(By Josefina Howard, Penguin Putnam Inc., Isbn #0-670-87947- 9)

If all native American ingredients, chocolate, made from cacao seeds that have been ground or roasted, is the best known throughout the world; it may come as a surprise to learn that chili peppers are the most widely used. In the sixteenth century, Mexicans welcomed Europeans with a cup of chocolate spiked with chile peppers. Four hundred years later we combine them, along with other indigenous Mexican ingredients like vanilla and Kahula, to create a very modern dessert.

For the Chocolate Genoise
1 cup plus 3 tbsp cake flour (do NOT substitute all-purpose)
1/3 cup cocoa powder (preferably dutched)
6 large eggs
1 cup sugar (I use extra fine - bar sugar)
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled (I use SWEET - unsalted)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  2. Grease the inside of a 9" or 10" cake pan with butter. Line with a piece of parchment paper cut into a circle to fit the pan, brush with butter and dust with flour. Shake out excess flour.
  3. Measure out the ingredients. Sift the flour and cocoa into a bowl.
  4. Beat the eggs and sugar in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk for 3 to 5 minutes until the mixture is warm to the touch and frothy.
  5. Transfer into the bowl of a mixer. Beat with the whisk attachment for 6 to 8 minutes on high until pale yellow, thick and almost tripled in volume.
  6. Gently fold the sifted cocoa and flour into the egg mixture in three stages. Fold in the butter just to combine. Do not over-mix or the mixture will deflate and loose its volume.
  7. Pour into the prepared pan and place in oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when tested. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  8. Unmold onto a cake board and, using a serrated knife, cut the cake horizontally into three even layers. (Note - dental floss also works well with a gentle sawing movement)

For the Kahlua Syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp Kahlua

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Cool and stir in the Kahlua.

For the Chocolate Chile Mousse
2 cups heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 package or 1 tbsp gelatin
2 tbsp cold water
2/3 cup heavy cream, boiled
9 oz. semisweet baking chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup sugar
approximately 1/2 tsp chile de arbol powder

  1. Whip 2 cups heavy cream and refrigerate.
  2. In a small measuring cup, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Set a cup in a pan of simmering water to melt the gelatin (or in a microwave for 30 seconds).
  3. In a separate bowl, pour 2/3 cup hot cream over the chocolate pieces to melt. Whisk in the chile de arbol powder and gelatin until well incorporated.
  4. When cool to the touch and beginning to set, fold a cup of whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten the chocolate. Fold in the rest of the cream and mix just to combine. Work quickly or the mousse will set up.

NOTE: Toast 20 to 25 chiles de arbol by heating a comal or cast-iron skillet or a heavy duty sauté pan. Toast the chiles in the hot/dry pan and turn with tongs to toast evenly. Allow to cool, remove seeds, veins, and stems.

Finely grind the chiles in a spice grinder. Sift the chiles through a fine strainer to obtain a very fine powder.

For the Ganache
1 cup heavy cream
4-1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
9 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, finely chopped

Bring the cream and butter to a boil. Pour the mixture over the chocolate pieces to melt. Gently stir until smooth and allow to cool until tepid. Reserve.

Filling and Decorating the Cake
  1. Set the bottom layer of the cake on a cardboard cake round. Brush with 1/3 of the Kahlua syrup. Spread 1/2 of the chocolate mousse on the cake.
  2. Carefully place the middle layer and align with the bottom layer. Repeat the procedure with the syrup and mousse.
  3. Add the final layer of the cake and brush with remaining syrup.
  4. Carefully wrap the cake in plastic wrap or foil. Freeze the cake to set. The cake at this point can be stored for 5 days in the refrigerator or 2 months in the freezer.
  5. Unwrap and place on a turntable or the counter. Evenly spread the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of the ganache. This is to mask the cake and even out the edges. Refrigerate to set.
  6. Warm the remaining ganache in a bowl over a pot of simmering water or in the microwave. Place the masked cake on a wire rack on a large plate or baking tray. Pour the warm ganache over the cake and spread with a spatula making sure the entire cake is covered. Refrigerate to set.
  7. Serve with Salsa de Café.

Salsa De Café
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
6 ounces sugar
2 tbsp instant coffee or expresso
6 egg yolks

  1. Bring the milk, cream, sugar and instant coffee to a boil in a 2 quart saucepan.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Carefully whisk 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the yolks to temper, return to the saucepan.
  3. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook until the mixture coats the back of the wooden spoon, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool.

NOTE - Fruit sauce can be made in the same way. Substitute fruit for the instant coffee.

Have fun!

Warm hugs and woofs,
Maggie and


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