Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tres Chiles Chocolate Cake with Hibiscus Habanero Caramel

The good folks at Marx Foods recently sent my some dried chilies. In exchange for the chiles, I was invited to come up with some sort of recipe, post it, and then my entry would be entered into their Chile Contest. Keeping my fingers crossed as the prizes offered are delicious! -eye on the prize-   

The polls are open! How abouts a vote for Foodalution! Click the Contest Link Below!

I was dreaming for several weeks about my anticipated chile recipe. Of course, being a chocolatier, I went straight to chocolate. I ended up making a cake that honors the Americas. I included not only chiles, but chocolate, coffee, vanilla and finally hibiscus... of all things. I kept thinking of the equator, warm sultry days, volcanic soil, and the bright color of chiles, dotting the landscape.  I labored away on Labor Day, making this over the top cake. I ignored my sweet husband for 8 hours and worked like a mad woman to get this cake to work. I unfortunatley lost my photos of the first half of the cake creation. I lost about 400 when uploading yesterday (my friends wedding included). Bummer... I know. But I did manage to salvage some great shots of the cake after I treated my husband to the first piece. (In honor of his ultimate test in patience of course)

If you haven't been over to Marx Foods, take a stop by. If you think you have seen the cat's meow of gourmet shops then you obviously haven't stopped there. Amazing selection of delicious treats. Drool worthy indeed. 

Chiles and Chocolate... I do love that mix... but my mind kept creating yummy thoughts of ooey gooey hibiscus habanero caramel. All I could think about was that ruby color, swirling on my stovetop... steaming away until finally a thick and gorgeous pink hibiscus habanero caramel was born. And born it was. At a perfect 243 degrees, I took the hot caramel off the stove and let this glorious stained glass mixture come to testing temperature. We tasted and tested, and even though spicy with the heat of the habanero, my kids and I kept dipping our spoons into the mix. (for sure these will be a chocolate flavor for me this fall).

Three Chile Chocolate Cake with Hibiscus Habanero Caramel - some advice...create an entire 24 hour holiday for yourself to make this cake - see notes at bottom for possible alterations to recipe.

Hibiscus Caramel  - with habanero

1 and 1/2 cups dried organic hibiscus flowers
2 cups sugar
4 water
1/2 of a dried habanero chile- deseeded

In a nice large pot, put the water and hibiscus flowers and habanero to boil for 15 minutes. Take off heat and pour liquid through a colander or fine sieve. Put liquid back on stove and add sugar. Boil liquid until the liquid comes to about 243 degrees. Take off stove and let cool completely. Liquid will become much more caramel like. When working with it later on in the recipe, warm over a pan of hot water. (double boiler or bain marie) Can be left at room temperature, just cover.

Three Chile Chocolate Cake with Mulato Chilies

2 dried Mulato Chilies 
water for soaking chilies 
8 oz unsalted organic butter
1 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
2 tsp. of Megdalia D.Oro Instant Espresso to 1 cup hot water
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Making the Cake
1) Soak the dried chilies in boiling water, about 1 and 1/2 cups worth of water for ten minutes. De-stem and toss chilies and about 1/2  cup of the soaking water into your blender. Blend until pureed. Strain. Take liquid and pour into measuring cup. Add enough bot water to make 1 cup of puree and liquid. Stir in 2 teaspoons of instant espresso powder. Let the slurry sit. Stir with small whisk to make sure the powder is mixed well. Set aside.
2) Oven to 325. Butter and flour two 9" cake pans. Place parchment over the buttered surface. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
3) Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cocoa and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Take off the heat, whisk in the chile coffee mixture, buttermilk and sugars until dissolved. Whisk in eggs and vanilla and slowly add flour mixture.
4) Divide batter equally between pans and cook until a toothpick comes out clean. About 30-35 minutes. Cool cakes for 15 minutes in pan, slide knife around the edge and then flip onto the cooking racks and let cool for at least 1 hour. Slice both cakes in half and set aside for putting together the cake.
5) The texture of this cake is very moist and dense, almost like banana bread, so don't be surprised if it seems dense and heavy... it still will taste good. 

Hibiscus Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick organic butter softened
2, 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar -sifted
3/4 cup hibiscus caramel - at least

Cream butter and cream cheese until nice and fluffy... no lumps! Add in sugar and beat until creamy again. Add in the hibiscus caramel. It is a little difficult to work with at this stage, but don't be afraid. Just grab it up with a large spoon and take your finger to scrape it off. Do not warm it at this time otherwise you will sully the frosting. You don't want to do this... the butter will melt and then all will be a loss. Mix the hibiscus habanero caramel  until your completely blended into your frosting and you have a lovely shade of light mauve frosting. Taste. Add more sugar or more caramel to your desire.

Chocolate Aji Ganache- enough to frost outside of cake

2 cups organic heavy whipping cream
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate. (around 65% cocoa content) - chopped into small pieces
2 TBS organic unsalted butter
1 aji chile de-seeded

Have chopped chocolate waiting in a stainless steel bowl. In a small sauce pan, melt butter slowly with the chile. Let the chile simmer in the butter for a while. Give the pepper a chance to release it's oils into the butter. Take care not to let the butter burn. Remove chile, add the cream and let come to a boil. Take off heat and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes.  Then begin to whisk the chocolate cream mixture until ganache forms. Put into the freezer for 5 minutes. Every 5 minutes, take ganache out and whisk until it has formed the correct consistency for spreading on your cake.

Putting it all together.... Now the fun starts!

Take first layer of cake and drizzle warmed hibiscus caramel over the cake layer. Top with the butter cream cheese frosting. Repeat until you reach the top layer. Place in refrigerator for 20 minutes to stabilize the cake. Take out and apply crumb coat of ganache to cake. Let chill for 15 minutes and then apply final coat of ganache. Voila... now you can decorate. If I lived in a climate that would produce hibiscus flowers out in my back garden... I would have happily deorated my cake with fresh flowers. I only had begonias.. which were lovely in their own way.

I had a ton of fun putting together this recipe. It was great to be focused around an ingredient I may not use normally in my baking. My husband adored the cake and said that he felt like driving the Indy 500 after just one piece. The coffee, chocolate, chile combo is quite stimulating. The cake itself had a wonderful earthy flavor, it really changed my basic cake recipe and turned it into something much more exotic. ***If the fruity flavor is too much, (which some of my tasters did say) set the hibiscus butter cream cheese aside and just drizzle each layer with hibiscus caramel and then layer up with ganache or even better, cappuccino ganache. Here is a link to make enough cappuccino ganache for your entire cake.This cake is powerhouse of flavors that needs to be tamed with small portion sizes and probably best not to be served to small children close to their bedtime.

Chocolate Chili Kisses and Hot Hibiscus Hugs! ~ Megan


  1. Oh it looks amazing and sounds really luxurious :)

  2. This cake is awesome, Megan. Is there anyway we can vote for you???

  3. This cake is gorgeous! Chocolate and Chiles go well together, I am sure this is delicious! Hope you win!

  4. Thanks for the sweet comments - There is a reader poll that will be live next week... I will keep you all updated.... and then I believe readers can vote. I will keep you posted..
    P.S. just had a slice... a tiny slice.... whoa..really intense!

  5. Wow, this is a stunning cake and such an interesting flavour combination! Good luck in the contest!

  6. That looks SO good! And all those flavours. What a complex concoction. First I wanted to day that I did not even know you could eat hibiskus but than I remembered that many fruit teas contain it. How would you describe the flavour?


  7. Your cake sounds so decadent with all of the flavors and textures. You get my vote.

  8. The name of the cake aloe sounds so amazing!!!!

  9. @ Tobias..... The cake is a bit of several things....complicated. Not necessarily what I usually make but fun. The cake takes like a earthy chocolate (with a hint of banana) cake. It is very moist, like a banana bread almost. The hibiscus is outstanding. The caramel is tart and delicious. It has somewhat of a strawberry flavor. I think if I make it again... I am going to just fill the layers with a spicier chocolate ganache and then serve with the hibiscus caramel drizzled over top.

  10. What a beautiful and amazing cake you've made!

  11. This is just gorgeous! I love the pink hibiscus..and of course your unique combination of chilli, chocolate, coffee etc. Truly spectacular! I am impressed! It was worth your labour and love :)

  12. My goodness Megan, how I wish I can join you for this! Any more left? :o)
    Hope you're well & take care, dear.
    Kristy ((hugs))

  13. My gosh that is stunning! I think you need to go pro!

  14. What a stunning cake!!! You've decorated it beautifully...truly a show stopper! And all the lovely flavors added to our favorite chocolate cake.....mmmmmmmm, so good!!

  15. What an AMAZING cake!!!! I love all the flavors you incorporated into it - hibiscus, chile, chocolate, coffee - YUM!!! Your use of begonia flowers to decorate it was quite clever. It's gorgeous!

  16. What a gorgeous and creative cake. I am amazed by the whole thing but the hibiscus caramel sauce won my heart. Best of luck in the contest. ;-)

  17. Wow, this is glorious! Good luck!

  18. This is one hot tamale, that is if a cake can be a tamale... GREG

  19. Just checking out the competition. Love chocolate and chilie together. Your cake looks delish - best of luck!

  20. Can that even be real? You truly are a goddess! You've already won in my mind.

  21. That looks amazing! Good luck, and happy eating!

  22. This is an amazing creation! I love the use of the chiles with chocolate and the hibiscus caramel! Genius and delicious!


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