In the Kitchen: Spicy Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche Glaze

Yes, I enjoy making cakes. Not fancy, double- or triple-layer extravaganzas, but one-bowl, easy cakes. Because who doesn't like cake? (If you don't, well, I'm sorry for you but don't burden me with your woes. Please). This cake is one of the truly terrific recipes from Cake Simple: Recipes for Bundt-Style-Cakes, by Christie Matheson. HIGHLY recommended. (The book.) (And the cake. It's intensely chocolate, but somehow not over-whelmingly rich.)

Spicy Chocolate Cake

I've made this several times. Last time, I reduced the amount of chili powder and added a bit of strong coffee to the liquid. Didn't work quite as well as I'd hoped. Not sure how much of it was the lesser amount of heat and how much was the coffee flavor overpowering the heat. Anyway: it's terrific as is. But I'd love to hear about your variants.


  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder (the real stuff, not the sweetened stuff for making hot chocolate)
  • 1 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 3/4 c. boiling water (this is where I swapped out water about a quarter cup of coffee for same amount of water)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1-3/4 c. flour
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. chile powder (use ancho if you have it, but any "hot" chile will do)
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T. vanilla (the real stuff)
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil (corn, canola, whatever)


  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1/4 c. condensed milk
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1/8 t. chili powder
  • 1/4 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a bundt pan (10 or 12 cup): rub with butter, and then dust with flour. Tap to ditch the excess flour. The original recipe suggested dusting with melted butter and then cocoa powder. Made a tremendous mess. I went back to my usual butter/flour method.

Put the chocolate in a small, heatproof bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Whisk until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Let it cool to room temperature.

Whisk together the two sugars, the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and chili powder. If it seems kind of lumpy, sift it instead. The more "smooth" the dry ingredients, the better the "crumb" (texture) of the cake.

In a mixing bowl (I use a stand mixer) fitted with the whisk attachment (or beaters if that's what you've got), whisk/beat the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, vegetable oil, and melted chocolate on low speed until thoroughly combined.

Still using low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients and mix/whisk until the dry is incorporated. Increase the speed slightly and mix for another 2 or 3 minutes. Don't over do it! This is the step that determines the cake texture: over-beat or over-mix, and you'll end up with a dry, tough texture.

Pour the batter into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 40 -45 minutes. (Check at 40. There are few things more disappointing than an over-baked cake.)

Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 or so minutes, then loosen it with a knife and invert on to a plate. Let it cool completely.

When it's cool, glaze.

To make the glaze: In a heavy, but nonreactive, small pan, combine the cream and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. (You'll know when that is, because the "grainy" feeling will vanish.) Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until the mixture has reduced to about a coup. Stir in the condense milk, and then whisk in the cinnamon, chile powder, and salt. Pour it gently over the cake. NOTE: if you want to avoid a mess on the cake platter, lay pieces of parchment paper around the bottom of the cake. Then just pull those away after you've finished glazing the cake.