Mexican chocolate cupcakes: Can you handle the heat?

Cayenne pepper.

Just typing that made a little bonfire ignite in my mouth.

I’ve never been one to dive into spicy foods, though I do fancy myself an eclectic, open-minded omnivore. There aren’t too many things — especially desserts — I won’t try, and I find myself getting more and more adventurous with my culinary habits as I get older. And braver.

So when I stumbled across this recipe for Mexican chocolate cupcakes months ago, the instructions immediately went in my “to be baked” file — and Tuesday night seemed as good a time as any to indulge in a little baking experiment.

I had no idea how these would turn out, honestly. I mean, we’re talking cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cocoa . . . and all in a cupcake. But life is nothing if we can’t be daring, so I started gathering my ingredients and went in for the kill.

And these? These are delicious. My sister proudly pronounced them “the best thing I’ve ever baked,” which made my little cupcake-loving heart burst with pride. Her boyfriend, a serious spicy-food eater, also loved them, and I brought a dozen into work on Wednesday to share with my dessert-hungry coworkers. They were gobbled up quickly.

“They’re so good,” said Josh, “but the spice makes me feel like a man.”

I’ll take that ringing endorsement, friends. Definitely.


A note on the recipe: Strawberry Pepper is a vegan cooking blog so, by proxy, this recipe is vegan, too. If that doesn’t suit your fancy, no worries — it’s easily adapted. For the frosting, I used regular ol’ butter in place of the vegan butter sticks and skim milk for the soy. It all came out delicious!

Also, I didn’t want to go too bold for my first attempt at these — I used one heaping teaspoon of cayenne pepper instead of the two called for here. Heed my warning: these do have a kick. If you don’t like things too spicy but these still appeal to you, go easy on the cayenne. A little does go a long way.

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes

Recipe from Strawberry Pepper

3 cups all-purpose white flour (or 1/2 whole wheat pastry, 1/2 white)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cayenne pepper (or less if you’re very sensitive to spice)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups water
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp apple cider or white vinegar

preheat oven to 350 ºF and place liners into a muffin pan
1. In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon and cayenne pepper together.
2. Add the vegetable oil, water, vanilla, and vinegar to the dry ingredients and stir. Do not over mix; a few clumps are okay.
3. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way, bake for 15-20 minutes or until a knife pulls out clean. Yields 24 cupcakes.

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 to 2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup vegan butter sticks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup soy milk

1. In a medium bowl, mix the cinnamon into the powdered sugar.
2. Add the shortening, butter sticks, vanilla, and soy milk and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
3. Spread over cupcakes (once they are fully cooled) and enjoy!

21 thoughts on “Mexican chocolate cupcakes: Can you handle the heat?

  1. Oh, these look so good! I’m going to have to try. Thanks for the head’s up on substituting regular butter and milk for the vegan butter and soy. I wouldn’t even know where to buy vegan butter.


  2. I’ve had this in my to-bake list too ever since you first shared the link a while back. Now I really need to get around to making them. I love that quote from Josh. In that case, I know some guys who would love these!


  3. Ahhh! I have to have these. Let me rephrase that: I WILL have these. I got into the spicy/sweet thing after having chili chocolate ice cream at a restaurant. I tried to imitate the recipe and failed. If you come across any spicy ice cream recipes that work, let me know! Then I started buying Dark chocolate with chilis made by Lindt. I usually have one piece of it every night after dinner. What a treat!


  4. Lovely! My husband and daughter are both vegan. My daughter loves baking vegan cupcakes, and my husband likes to cook, too. I’ve just sent him the link to the Strawberry Pepper blog!


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