Bittersweet with a hint of spice this dark Mexican chocolate cake is topped with clouds of sweet, chocolate-ribboned meringue. An impressive gluten free cake that is simple to make that awakens every dark chocolate dream you’ve had.I love chocolate paired with spice. One of my favourite chocolate memories (everyone has those, right?) is lying on a bunk bed in a tiny little hostel room in New York with my best friend Casey talking about our adventures of the day while we devoured the (then) newly released Lindt Chocolate with Chili. That trip to New York was the first time I was really awakened to the thought of pairing chocolate with all sorts of spices, and how each spiced creation can be greater than the sum of its parts. We sampled chocolate with chili, divine milk and white chocolates spiked with cardamom, and seashell chocolate sprinkled with cinnamon. A whole new world was opened up to me.
When Casey threw a Mexican themed family dinner a few weekends ago, I knew it was the perfect time to create a spicy, sweet chocolate treat. The bottom of this cake is a fudgy chocolate cake with a hearty dose of hazelnut meal for texture. An otherwise beautifully dense chocolate cake it is made unique with a sprinkling of cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Enough cinnamon so that it both complements the dark chocolate, but also so that it stands out as a key ingredient. I added just a touch of cayenne pepper so that I could taste a mild sparkling of heat – this is still dessert after all! You could leave the cayenne out entirely for a milder spiced treat.
Just look at those chocolate peaks. Yum. Although this cake looks very complicated, and it will certainly impress your eating audience it is very simple to make. There are two main parts to the cake and each is quite easy. Once again this sweet and sinful treat is greater than the sum of its parts. The bottom layer is an easy melt and mix chocolate cake. Super simple. Once your chocolate cake is baked and cooled slightly you make an easy meringue topping with melted chocolate folded through and then gently plop it on top and slide the cake bake into the oven to crisp up the meringue a little. Simple, but truly delicious and inspired.
The meringue is crispy sweet on top, and beneath the crackly surface it is fluffy, sticky and sweet and slightly under-baked with pockets of melted dark chocolate.This is the cake you make when you want people to realise that gluten free baking is just as delicious and exciting as gluten-full baking. This is the dessert you make when you want to impress and treat your dinner guests, workmates, or beloved to something special. I can imagine this would make a delightful birthday cake with a large scoop of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream, or just some simple whipped cream. Or, eaten out of the container when you come home a little tipsy from too much sangria at your friend’s Mexican-themed family dinner party….
Mexican Chocolate Hazelnut Meringue Cake
Gluten free | Serves 8 – 10 | Preparation Time: 30 minutes | Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Tip: make sure your bowl for making the meringue is very, very clean and dry otherwise your egg whites will not whip.
For the cake
- 45 grams buckwheat flour
- 30 grams white rice flour
- 55 grams hazelnut meal
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 125 grams butter, chopped
- 100 grams good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
For the meringue
- 3 egg whites, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 100 grams good quality dark chocolate, melted and cooled
- Preheat your oven to 160C (320F) and butter an 8-inch (20cm) round cake tin very well. Line the bottom with baking powder and set aside.
- In a medium bowl whisk together buckwheat flour, rice flour, hazelnut meal, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper (if using). Whisk until no lumps remain.
- In a large microwave-safe bowl place chopped butter and chocolate. Microwave in 30 second bursts and stir well with a metal spoon in between bursts until chocolate and butter are melted. Remove from microwave and allow to cool slightly.
- Lightly whisk eggs and add to the melted butter and chocolate along with the sugar. Whisk until smooth.
- Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes back with only a few crumbs clinging to it.
- Remove cake from oven and allow to sit at room temperature while you prepare the meringue.
- Increase oven heat to 220C (430F).
- Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, alternately use a handheld mixer and a large mixing bowl. Whisk until firm peaks form.
- Add caster sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and whisk until sugar is completely dissolved. Whisk in vanilla and beat until stiff, glossy peaks have formed.
- Place half the meringue mixture into a large clean bowl. Add half the melted chocolate and briefly fold through. Only about 3-5 folding movements to maintain the marbled effect. Spoon swirled meringue onto the cake.
- Repeat with remaining meringue and chocolate.
- Baked in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the meringue is firm on top.
- Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving.