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Brenda Martinez | South Plains EC

The Martinez family enjoys playing in the kitchen, and this spicy cake resulted. “Our family loves the smoky, spicy flavors of the Southwest, and these go so well with chocolate,” Martinez says. Adjust the amount of pure ground chile powder (not “chili powder”) and chipotle peppers to suit your tastes.

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons pure ground chile powder (such as ancho or New Mexico)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups cold water

3 cups powdered sugar
7 tablespoons hot water
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups chopped sweet cherries (fresh or frozen)
3–4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 1/2 cups sugar

1. Batter: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, or cut parchment to fit and place in pans.

2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and chile powder. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla and beat for 2–3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for up to 4 minutes. Mix in the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the cold water. Beat for at least 1 minute after each addition and mix until batter is smooth.

3. Divide batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 30–35 minutes, or until cakes spring back when touched. Cool cakes in pans for 5 minutes, then invert onto wire racks to cool completely (carefully peel away parchment, if using).

4. Icing: Whisk together sugar and water until sugar has dissolved. Beat in chocolate and vanilla. Add the butter in small amounts and mix until smooth and glossy.

5. Sauce: Mix cherries and chipotle peppers thoroughly in small saucepan on stove over medium heat. Stir in lime juice. Add sugar and bring to boil, stirring frequently, until slightly thick.

6. To assemble cake, spread 1/2 cup icing on top of one layer. Place the second layer on top, and frost entire cake with remaining icing. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Before slicing, drizzle the sauce over cake (or serve it on the side) and serve.

Serves 10–12.

Cook’s Tip

The cherry chipotle sauce can be made 2–3 days in advance, and the cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before serving. For more depth of flavor, use strong brewed coffee (cooled) instead of water in the cake batter.