Chili Cacao Mayan Cupcakes

I wanted something spicy, indulgent and luxurious and thus Chili Cacao Mayan Cupcakes were born…

Why Mayan cupcakes? Well, the ancient Mayans used chili peppers along with vanilla and other ingredients to spice their chocolate drinks. It’s not the hot chocolate we enjoy today, but a bitter, spiced drink enjoyed by the wealthy. After the Aztecs conquered the Mayans, the Aztec king taxed them in cacao and vanilla beans. Why? Legend says he drank as much as 50 cups of the indulgent cacao drink after dinner and wanted his pantry full of the ingredients! This cupcake is patterned after what we know of that ancient, luxurious drink. It’s also said to have great aphrodisiac properties.
Since cacao beans were used as currency by the Mayans, only the very wealthy could afford to “eat” their money. So, these cupcakes have real 23 carat gold flakes on them so you can eat your money, too. :) The symbol on the top is a chocolate replica of the Mayan symbol Hanab Ku, said to represent all consciousness that ever existed in the galaxy. I hope you enjoy them!

Chili Cacao Mayan Cupcakes
with Vanilla Bean/Dark Chocolate Icing

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
1/2 C. Dark Cocoa Powder
3 oz. dark chocolate, melted (high quality)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. white vinegar
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp. ground Cayenne pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. ground annato (achiote molido)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cupcake pan or line with paper wrappers. In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat well. Add dark cocoa powder and melted chocolate. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and vinegar. Mix well. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground annato, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Add the dry ingredients alternating with the buttermilk. With each addition, mix until the ingredients are incorporated. Put batter into a gallon Ziploc bag, snip off about an inch from one corner, and pipe batter into prepared cupcake pans, filling about ¾ full. Bake for about 15-17 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely. Frost with icing.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
1 vanilla bean
4 cups confectioner's sugar (approximately 1 lb.) or more, depending on desired thickness
2 Tablespoons Milk

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Split open vanilla bean and scrape out seeds, add to butter mixture. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Dark Chocolate Buttercream
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate squares, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups Confectioners' sugar sifted
3-4 tablespoons Milk

Cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add cocoa, melted chocolate and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Lastly, but most importantly, a HUGE THANK YOU to my funny, mind-blowingly-talented, amazing, silly, sweet, perfectly wonderful friend Annie for these photos. She felt sorry for my pitiful photo skills and came over, camera and kids in tow to take these. If you ever need a laugh or a pick-me-up, read her blog. It's hilarious.
A couple people have asked where I got the edible Gold Leaf for the cupcakes. You can get some for your own fancy schmancy desserts here.


Annie said...

Aw, go on. ;)

Jenny said...

Wow, now these have winner written all over them! The pics are beautiful, that was really nice of your friend. Good luck, let us know when the voting begins and we'll help!

jen said...

I agree, winners for sure. They are amazing!! They look so delicious, and where did you get gold to dust on them?

fabulous job. :)

Mandy said...

Jenny, thank you!!!

Jen, I'm glad you like them. :)
The gold dust I bought from www.fancyflours.com (as well as the fluted baking cups). Those brown fluted cups are so great for baking, they're firm so you just set them on a baking sheet. I love the shape. The look kind of vintage to me. Your cupcake recipe looks awesome and your photograph is beautiful!

Mandy said...

Here's the link to the edibe gold flakes. I bought it for the cupcakes, but I'm excited to use it for other desserts when I'm having a dinner party or something. :)

Camie said...

They look beautiful, Mandy. I hope you win!!!!

Kathy Maister said...

These cupcakes look like real winners! I can't wait to give them a try!
Annie did a fantastic job photographing your masterpiece!
Prior to startcooking.com I knew absolutely nothing about photography. I discovered, through trial and error, that photos taken in natural daylight turn out much better than trying to set up any lighting or depending on the flash. I also use lots of hand mirrors to bounce the light. Then I take a deep breath and pray at least one of them turns out well! :)

Lisa Michelle said...

I had to come here just to look at them again, and check out the recipe. Yep, still drool inducing and absolutely stunning! Definitely the winner! I'm so glad I have gold flakes, as I can't wait to try them (and impress the hell out of people..lol)

Emily said...

You have my husband in awe of your cupcakes! I told him "the kitchen's that way, knock yourself out love!" They really do look amazing!

HereBeDragons said...

Wow! That looks utterly amazing. So tempting. I really want one now!

One question, is the achiote molido you have listed the same as the red-colored powered achiote I bought in the hispanic section of my store? If so, I've got some already!

Mandy said...

You're exactly right! That red powdered achiote should work great. You can adjust the spices acccording to your own "spicy" taste.:) have fun!

Liz said...

Those look amazing! Thanks so much for joining in the fun at Cupcake Tuesday!

angela@spinachtiger said...

These are so impressive.

There is a blogger who lifted your picture and recipe.

It's at http://domesticblissinoregon.blogspot.com

September 20, 2009.

Mandy said...

Thanks for letting me know. Yes, she stole the recipe and photo AND has disabled comments and has no link to email her on her profile. So, I think she basically rips off other bloggers recipes. That's so sad. Hopefully she can use her time better and have some fun with her kids in her own kitchen instead of blogging about other people's recipes.

Bley said...

Hi! I am actually very "green" of you. Compared to other blogs that make just regular food, (albiet gourmet and beautiful), yours is so creative it makes my heart ache. I wish I could be so outside the box in my thinking! Geez!

Bley said...

Hey, just saw the above plagarism related posts, why don't you contact google's offices or contact blogger's service? Don't let her rip people off, or get away with this!! Wage war!!