Ancho chili powder really does make everything better, and cupcakes are no exception. The combination of chili peppers and chocolate is a classic – see Mexico’s famous mole poblano. And really, doesn’t devil’s food cake just sound like the type of dish that should have some kick to it? The cupcake recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s, and will yield 12 cupcakes. The frosting is this recipe just with the addition of cayenne. It ended up yielding enough for about 16 cupcakes. Making too much frosting isn’t ideal, but it’s a good problem to have.
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup hot water
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
Melt the butter along with the sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat at medium-low speed for 5 minutes, until mixture is cooled. If you find that the butter/sugar mixture is still rather warm, do what I did and stick it outside on a freezing cold balcony for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, add the cocoa powder to the hot water and stir to combine. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ancho chili powder and salt.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated (still medium low speed). Add the vanilla, then the hot cocoa water mixture, beating until combined. Reduce the speed to low, and add the flour mixture and the sour cream, alternating in two batches (i.e. half the flour, half the sour cream, repeat).
Divide the batter into the muffin tins, using a little under a quarter cup each. The batter should fill the tins ¾ of the way. Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Let cool completely before icing.
Spicy Chocolate Frosting:
1 cup (8 ounces/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 60% cacao), melted and cooled
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a stand mixer, whip the butter using your whisk attachment on medium high for 5 minutes. You’ll want to scrape the bowl/dislodge stuck butter from the whisk once or twice during this time.
Reduce the speed to low, and slowly pour in the powdered sugar. Once the sugar and butter are combined, add the vanilla extract and cayenne, beating until combined. Slowly pour in the melted chocolate, beating to combine. You’ll need to scrape down the bowl to incorporate all the chocolate. Increase the speed to medium-high, and whip for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a ½” star tip before dispensing on top of the cupcakes.