Baking season is upon us! And before we dive into pumpkin spice, let’s make a sweet stop at chili season.
Cayenne and chocolate is a tale as old as time. Or at least as old as Mayan civilization. These cupcakes will make you the talk of the chili festival. A little cayenne in the batter and a simple chocolate glaze are refined and elegant. Top with some spicy pecans, though, to really get everyone in the mood.
These are just a little spicy so as not to scare off anyone who absolutely can’t handle heat, but if you’re looking to really do some damage, just double the cayenne in both the cake and the pecans. Originally published in The Superfun Times Holiday Cookbook, which you should totally buy. Photo by VK Rees.
For the cupcakes:
1 cup unsweetened soy milk (or your favorite nondairy milk)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
For the pecans:
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1 teaspoon refined coconut oil
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or agave
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the chocolate glaze:
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your favorite nondairy milk)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a standard-size muffin tin with paper or foil cupcake liners. Spray lightly with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and vinegar and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.
Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract to the milk mixture and mix vigorously until foamy. Mix in the orange zest. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cayenne. Mix until no large clumps of flour are left.
Fill the lined muffin cups three-quarters of the way. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Remove from pan when they are cool enough to handle.
Make the pecans:
Have ready a plate lined with parchment. Preheat a small pan over medium heat. Toast the pecans for 2 minutes. Add the coconut oil and toss to coat. Stir in the maple syrup, sugar, salt, and cayenne and cook until bubbly, about 2 minutes. Spread the coated pecans onto the parchment and let cool.
Make the chocolate glaze:
In a small pan, bring the milk to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat and use a rubber spatula to stir in the chocolate and maple syrup, until smooth. Let cool for about 15 minutes.
Break the pecans apart into smaller pieces. Spoon the glaze onto the cooled cupcakes. Top with the pecans. Set aside in a cool place to let the chocolate set before serving.