I always enjoy chocolate with the addition of chile, and while we were in Mexico over Christmas, I was reminded of a chile-chocolate torte that my Mom and I used to make. The Mayan people use chile and cinnamon in their drinking chocolate, chocolate bars, as well as cakes and desserts, and with good reason. It’s a perfect combination where the cinnamon sets off the chocolate flavor, and the chile adds a hot kick. This is an adaptation of the torte Mom and I made, and a recipe from Emeril, with just a few tweaks. In this batter I used organic cane sugar in place of granulated white sugar, replaced cocoa powder with raw cacao, upped the amount of ancho chile, and added cayenne (the batter wasn’t quite spicy enough when I tested it at first). I made it for our guests on Valentine’s day, and served it up with a homemade unsweetened cinnamon whipped cream, which was the perfect balance to the sweetness of the torte itself. Add a cup of good coffee, and your guests will fall in love…
2 sticks unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup raw cacao, sifted, plus more for dusting
3 tablespoons ancho chili powder1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs, separated
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup heavy cream
***Springform pan (I omitted parchment paper from original recipe)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside. In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa, chili powder, cayenne, 1/2 the cinnamon, and salt. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the sugar until thick and pale yellow in color. Fold the chocolate mixture into the yolks and mix well. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until thick. Whisking, add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar gradually and continue to beat to form a light meringue. In several additions, fold into the chocolate mixture, being careful not to deflate the meringue. Gently pour into the prepared pan and bake until the edges are set but the center is still moist and a few crumbs stick to a tester, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Run a thin, sharp knife around the edge of the cake. Remove the pan sides and gently lift away the cake. Invert onto a cake plate, remove the bottom and peel away the parchment.
In a bowl, beat the cream with an electric mixer until frothy. Add the cinnamon and continue to beat until the cream holds soft peaks.
To serve, slice the cake with a portion of the whipped cream. Garnish with cocoa powder and serve.