I so badly want to love spicy foods, but I'm just so sensitive to spice. Every now and then, though, the flavor hiding underneath the spice is worth the heat. This Spicy Chocolate Cake is so rich and chocolatey and delicious, with a beautiful kick of heat at the end that brings warmth to your soul.
I love adding some themed sprinkles to this spicy chocolate cake and making it for Halloween - this cake is both a treat and a trick! It's also great for the cozy months as the spice adds some warmth. If you love rich chocolate cakes, you'll also love this Flourless Chocolate Cake, Gooey Homemade Red Wine Lava Cakes, and Thin Mint Cupcakes!
Why this Recipe Works
The Mayans' original drinking chocolate included chili powder, and Mexican chocolate is made with cinnamon, and often includes other spices such as chili powder. These traditional chocolate flavor combinations inspired the addition of cinnamon and cayenne to this Spicy Chocolate Cake recipe.
Ingredients and Notes
Cocoa Powder - The chocolate in this moist cake recipe is solely from cocoa powder. There is no other type of chocolate added. Cocoa powder on its own is quite bitter, and bitter chocolate is commonly paired with cinnamon and spices. In this recipe, sugar is added to provide some sweetness to offset the bitterness of the cocoa powder.
Espresso Powder - Espresso powder does not add a coffee flavor to this easy spicy cake recipe, but rather it really enhances the chocolate flavor to make this homemade cake extra rich and chocolatey.
Cinnamon and Cayenne - Cinnamon and cayenne complement the deep chocolate flavor so perfectly. The depth of flavor added by these spices makes this the best chocolate cake with just a hint of heat that sneaks up on you at the end.
Milk - The milk in this spicy cake and/or icing can be replaced with coffee to add a delicious twist to the chocolate flavor. This will enhance both the richness of the chocolate and will also meld perfectly with the spices.
Cinnamon and Cayenne - If spicy isn't your thing, feel free to skip one or both of these spices for a deliciously rich and luxurious chocolate cake without the extra pop of spice!
How to Make this Recipe
Step 1: Spray two 9" cake pans with non-stick spray, line the bottoms with a round cut-out of parchment paper, and spray the parchment with non-stick spray.
Step 2: Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
Step 3: In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, kosher salt, cocoa powder, espresso powder, cinnamon, and cayenne (these are the dry ingredients).
Step 4: Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture, then about half the milk then another third of the dry ingredients, the rest of the milk, and finally the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Step 5: Divide the chocolate cake batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake at 350° F for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then flip onto wire racks to cool completely.
Step 6: Combine all frosting ingredients and mix till smooth. If the frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If the frosting is too thick, add more milk. Add additional cinnamon and cayenne to taste, as desired.
Step 7: Place one of the spicy chocolate cakes on the serving dish and pipe or spread a layer of frosting on top of the cake.
Step 8: Place the other chocolate cake on top of the frosting layer, and top with additional frosting. Cover the sides of the cake with frosting if desired.
The texture of cake comes from both certain individual ingredients as well as the overall ratio of wet to dry ingredients. In this spicy chocolate cake, the milk is the wet ingredient that moistens the remaining dry ingredients. Adjusting the measurements of wet or dry ingredients (or using substitute ingredients) could result in a dry and crumbly cake or a wet mess!
Creaming the butter and sugar together whips air into the batter which helps your cake rise. If you don't fully cream the butter and sugar together, the result will be a short, dense cake. Be sure to beat the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy to result in a light and fluffy cake.
According to The Flavor Thesaurus, chilis develop a sweet and fruity flavor when they become red and gets even sweeter when dried. This flavor blends best with darker, bitter chocolate, and the chocolate helps offset the heat from the chili.
Tips & Tricks
Tip #1: Adjust the spice level to your liking by adjusting the amount of cayenne. Too much spice can overpower the flavor, but taste as you go and adjust however you like!
Tip #2: For a truly epic chocolate experience, add a layer of chocolate ganache between the cake and the frosting. You could even add cinnamon and cayenne to the ganache.
Tip #3: This recipe can be made into 24 cupcakes by simply using two lined cupcake pans instead of cake pans, and baking for about 25 minutes.
Tip #4: For a larger than 9" cake pan, reduce your bake time. For a smaller than 9" cake pan, increase your bake time. If using a much smaller pan, it may be best to bake a few extra smaller cakes and make this a layer cake. If the batter fills the pan quite high, it will take a long time to bake and may overflow.
Tip #5: If you don't have round cake pans, two 8x8 baking dishes will work great too!
- Store in an air tight container at room temperature for a few days.
- Cake can also be stored in the freezer for a couple weeks, just be sure to defrost it a bit before cutting into it.
Did you try this recipe? Leave a review below, and tag @flourdeliz on Instagram!
Spicy Chocolate Cake
- medium mixing bowl
- small mixing bowl
- stand or hand mixer
- 2 9" cake pans if you only have one, you can make one layer at a time
- 2 sticks butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt Diamond Crystal
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 cup milk
- 2 sticks butter melted
- 1 ½ cups cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cayenne adjust to taste
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon adjust to taste
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup milk
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Spray two 9" cake pans with non-stick spray, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, then spray the parchment with non-stick spray.
- Beat butter and sugar.
- Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour through cayenne (the dry ingredients).
- Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the milk to the egg mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
- Divide evenly between the two cake pans and bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool in the cake pan for approximately 5 minutes, then move cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Combine butter, cocoa powder, vanilla, and spices.
- Alternate adding in powdered sugar and milk until icing is desired consistency.
- Continue adding cinnamon and cayenne until desired heat level is achieved.
- Place one of the cake layers on your serving dish, then pipe or spread a layer of frosting on top of the cake.
- Place the second cake layer on top of the icing layer, and pipe or spread another layer of frosting on top.
- Cover the sides of the cake with frosting if desired, then cut, serve, and enjoy!
This recipe was originally posted on October 15, 2017, but was republished with new photos, additional information about the recipe, step-by-step instructions, FAQs, and tips and tricks in October of 2022.