Posted by: njbrown | February 12, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Cake for Valentine’s

Mexican Chocolate Cake for Valentine’s

For several weeks, I’d been trying to think of a good recipe for my Valentine’s blog.  Having already made all my favorites for the blog, nothing had really seemed just right.  Then last night, we went to Milestone’s restaurant (a chain here in Canada), and on their dessert menu was warm Ibarra Chocolate Cake.  It was described as having the combination of chocolate and cinnamon often found in Mexican cuisine. Chocolate and cinnamon both stimulate endorphins that give us a feeling of well-being, and chocolate causes a chemical reaction in the body that makes us feel “almost like being in love.”   It seemed the answer to my Valentine’s problem. My husband and I shared one.  The cake was served on a pool of chocolate and caramel sauce, and drizzled with the same sauce.  A scoop of vanilla gelato, whipped cream, grated chocolate and cinnamon completed this lovely dessert – sweet, but not too sweet, and wonderful smooth textures.  The aroma of cinnamon from the warm cake made it even more delightful.

Only after I got home and got on the computer did I learn that Ibarra is a type of Mexican chocolate.  (Iron Chef American had a competition on chocolate, and they showed various types of Mexican chocolate, but that had grown dim in my memory.)  I don’t know where I’d find Ibarra chocolate, but I did find the following recipe for Mexican Chocolate Cake.  Milestone’s recipe apparently uses goat’s milk, and this recipe calls for buttermilk – an easier ingredient to find.

Note:  This dessert gave me an opportunity to work on my chocolate tempering skills.  I had thought tempering involved very precise melting to about 110 degrees, then taking the chocolate down below 84 degrees, and then heating again to about 88 to 90 degrees.  However, dear Jacques Torres indicated in Chocolate Circus that you can just melt your chocolate and then take it down to between 84 degrees and 88 degrees.  Voila!  Simple!  I almost wept with thanks, and it worked for making the chocolate heart garnish by piping tempered chocolate using a writing tip onto waxed paper.

Mexican Chocolate Cake


  • 4 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate
  • ½  cup butter
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3  cup buttermilk
  • 1¼   tsp. baking soda
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter in the hot water and bring to a boil.
  3. Remove from heat and add flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well with a wire whisk or eggbeater.
  4. Stir in buttermilk, soda, eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  5. Pour into 13×9″ pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until the top springs back when touched with a fingertip.

 Chef Michael Smith’s Caramel Sauce

Note: Be sure to add the cream very slowly, or the sauce will boil over.


  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup 35% whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla


  • Pour the water into a saucepan then pour the sugar in a pile in the middle of the water.
  • Turn the heat to medium-high heat and begin cooking without stirring. The sugar will dissolve in the water and begin to boil. The water will evaporate, leaving behind a pure sugar syrup that will then begin to rise in temperature, past the boiling point of water, and into the flavour zone.
  • When the sugar begins to lightly brown here and there, gently swirl the pan until all of the sugar is a deep golden brown.
  • Very slowly, carefully pour in the cream and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  • Cool until thickened or serve hot!

Easy Chocolate Sauce



  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Over medium heat, bring sugar, water and cocoa to a boil.
  2. Boil one minute.
  3. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and cinnamon.

To serve, warm cake.  Put pool of caramel sauce and/or chocolate sauce on plate.  Top cake with spoonful of gelato.  Drizzle with chocolate sauce and caramel sauce.  Pipe or spoon sweetened whipped cream over all.  Sprinkle  whipped cream with cinnamon and grated dark chocolate.



  1. What kind of soda? like any kind

    • My apologies! Baking soda.

      Best wishes,


  2. Wow! This would have 2 of my favourite flavours in the world…..chocolate and cinnamon!

    Thanks Nancy! Ole!

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