There’s a chocolate company here in San Diego that keeps me quite happy – Chuao Chocolatiers. Actually, it’s my husband who keeps me happy gifting me small boxes of their very unique chocolates several times during the year: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, my birthday, our anniversary… I am thankfully rarely out of Chuao chocolate. I think biting into one of their dark nuggets of wonderfulness is what helped me understand that dessert can be sweet and have a bite — a spicy bite that is.
So when I saw this Boca Negra Chocolate Chipotle Cakes recipe a few years ago I knew I had to try it. It reminded me of another Boca Negra I’d tried, but this one had so much more to offer. Chocolate and chipotle? With tomatillo sauce? Oh my. Sometimes, one has to suspend all thought about preconceived notions and just dive right in with the most open of minds. It is only then that unexpectedly amazing flavors can be enjoyed.
And wonder of all wonders is that this happens to fit right in with this month’s Sugar High Friday event, hosted by the talented Anita of Dessert First. The deadline isn’t until Monday, the 27th and I’m so done. Are you ready to spice up your life?
Chocolate Chipotle Cakes with Tomatillo Sauce and Cream
serves 4 lucky people (seriously lucky)
6 T butter, unsalted + more for buttering ramekins
1/2 c. sugar + more for dusting
3 chipotle chilies in adobo
3 T orange juice
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into small chunks
2 lg. eggs
2 T all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and place a rack in the center. Butter 4 1/2 c. ramekins and dust with sugar. Set in a baking pan that will hold enough water to reach half way up the sides of the ramekins. Set aside.
- To prepare chipotles, scrape excess adobo off and slice into thin strips. Place in a fine-meshed strainer and rub against the mesh, pressing hard, and occasionally scraping the contents from under the strainer into a bowl. You’ll need about 1-1/2 T for the recipe. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, add orange juice and sugar, cooking over medium-high heat until it boils, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Pour over the chocolate chunks, stirring until the chocolate is melted. Add the butter and stir until melted and well-blended.
- Add the eggs to the chocolate one at a time, stirring quickly until each is incorporated. Add the strained chipotle, flour, and salt and mix well. Divide evenly amongst the prepared ramekins and set them in the oven. Carefully pour very hot water into the baking pan to reach half way up sides of ramekins. Bake until the tops are puffed above the rims of the ramekins, are just set and beginning to crust — about 50-60 minutes.
- When the cakes are done, remove the baking pan from the oven carefully and using a pair of large tongs, grasp the sides of each ramekin to remove them to stand at room temp for 1-2 minutes.
- At this point you can let them cool in the ramekins and serve that way, or un-mold two ways: 1) Place serving dish over the top of a ramekin and flip, holding firmly to the plate. Gently pull the ramekin from the cake. 2) Place a large plate over the ramekin and flip as before, then unmold. Place a smaller plate over the cake and invert again.
- Best when served warm, but is quite good at room temperature as well. Serve with tomatillo sauce and whipped cream.
can be made a few days ahead
1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 lbs. tomatillos
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/8 c. water
1″ piece of cinnamon stick
- Peel the husk off the tomatillos and rinse the stickiness off their skins. Remove the stem end and chop into chunks. Place in a small sauce pan.
- Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into the pan along with the pod. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat. Stir occasionally, cooking until very soft, at least 15 minutes.
- Remove cinnamon stick and vanilla pod from the mixture and discard. Pour mixture into a food processor or blender and puree until very smooth. Pour into a lidded container and cool completely before sealing and refrigerating.
1 c. heavy cream
1/4 tsp. orange extract
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 T. sugar
- Whip cream until soft peaks form, then add the remaining ingredients and beat until firm.
- To serve, invert and un-mold the cake and spoon sauce around the cake. Be generous.
- Pipe or dollop cream on top and sprinkle with a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon. Prepare to swoon. Seriously.
- I have used many brands of chocolate to make this dessert, but have only used Chuao’s Spicy Mayan chocolate bar melted to drizzle over the top. If you have a little spice, why not add more, right? Unfortunately, the picky eaters don’t exactly like it that spicy.
- The aroma of the tomatillo sauce is amazing, I kid you not. It always reminds me of something else I can’t quite put my finger on, but I always make sure I dip my finger in it while it’s warm. Oh. My. The taste is sweet, rich with vanilla, and a hint of citrus — or something. I can never figure it out. It’s all a bit odd while looking at a pale green mixture that has tiny seeds. No, you can’t feel the seeds when you eat it.
- The original recipe for the cakes expects you to use dried chipotles, hydrate them, drain them, then make a paste with them. Although that tastes quite wonderful in the cakes, I’ve learned that using the chipotles en adobo is just as good and far easier. If you’re a bit of a fuss nut like I am, by all means do it the hard way first. But save time when you make it again.
- If you’re going to un-mold the cakes, then do it fairly soon after taking them from the oven, otherwise they won’t come out — or they’ll come out in parts. Yes, ask me again how I’ve learned this information…
- Both versions of un-molding work easily. The slightly crusty top keeps it from getting messed up on the second flip. The single flip version will have a somewhat moist bottom which is nice — well, as far as chocolate cake goes.
- The “heat” in the cakes is low and slow. It’s not a sharp heat. It sort of blooms while you eat, and then lingers on the sides and the back of your mouth even after you’re finished — very pleasant.
- The combination of the rich, dense, spicy chocolate with the sweetness of the tomatillo sauce is unlike any dessert I’ve had. The slightly sweet cream added to this combo puts it over the top, mellowing out the flavors.
- The original recipe is doubled and serves eight. I’ve also made this in a 10″ fluted tart pan and served it in wedges. Like I said — WOW.
- The original recipe can also be found here along with some additional relevant information …personally, I like my version better. And I never say that, do I?