I like it hot.
Do you like it hot?
Can you drop it like it’s hot?
Okay, that last question is irrelevant. Scratch that. Sooo, I’ve been meaning to write a hotness entry for a while now. It was the day before Cinco de Mayo when I first spotted the chocolate dipped jalapenos in the glass bakery case at my neighborhood Whole Foods. They seemed to be a unique union of heat and sweet. They were going for $2.99 a piece. No es barato. But they were different and I loved the idea of them.
I returned the next day and bought a sack full of fresh jalapenos and a bag of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips. I would make my own chocolate dipped jalapenos. Por que no? I decided I’d wait until Friday to do the chocolate dipping and then take them over to a Siete de Mayo party, where I knew friends, tequila, and a pinata would all be in attendance. Seemed to me that every party needs a pepper.
Here’s one fun fact I didn’t know about fresh jalapenos. Some are hot and some are not. I’m not sure how that works, maybe it’s maturity thing, but it’s true. Trust me. I ate an entire pepper without tasting a bit of heat, then took a tiny bite of another pepper and my lips went almost completely numb and my tongue pulsed. (I then proceeded to take a swig of milk from the carton in the fridge and guzzle a Tecate. Ahhh, much better.) Also, you probably already know this, but the seeds pack the most heat. So, eating the part of the jalapeno that’s closest to the stem, where the seeds huddle, is usually really intense. On the Scoville Scale, jalapenos look tame. Maybe I’m a wimp, but I wasn’t the only one at the party who’s eyes started watering from the pepper punch. All of this is to say that chocolate dipped jalapenos make very fun, (sometimes) edible party favors. Give them a try. I dare you.
Now, I fully recognize the hitch in this chocolate dipped jalapeno suggestion. It’s that some people would never ever want to try one, let alone make them. I get that, I really do! So, as a peace-offering, I offer you another dessert option that is sure to please almost anyone. If it doesn’t please them, they’re crazy. You heard me.
I stumbled upon a flourless chocolate cake recipe a few months ago. Actually, full disclosure. I was in the grocery store and wanted to bake a cake. I couldn’t Google a recipe on my phone because I am one of the last people in all of San Francisco who doesn’t have a data plan. (I kind of like it that way. Old school.) So, I called Pom to ask for an easy recipe. Something with minimal ingredients, so I would remember everything I needed upon checkout. She found this one online from David Lebovitz, pastry chef extraordinaire. David calls it the Chocolate Idiot Cake. It has a total of four ingredients: chocolate, butter, sugar and eggs. Cinchy. But, his cake must be baked in a “hot water bath,” which, without going into further details, is a little bit of a pain. Needless to say, I made it a few months ago and it was good. Quite good.
Fast forward to last week, when I needed a cake to accompany more chocolate dipped jalapenos. I was attending a friend’s La Cena Espanol – a dinner party where the guests only speak in Spanish. I’d promised to bring the peppers, but I feared that alone they wouldn’t quite suffice. That’s when I remembered the flourless chocolate cake from before. Only this time, when I Googled the recipe, I added “spicy” to the search terms and found this little gem. Same cake, minus the water bath, plus spices. Better than quite good. Dang good! Warm warmer HOT.
Not this hot.
(Thank you, Jake Gyllenhaal, for greeting me everyday at the bus stop. You are hot.)
I know. It’s not fair to compare Jake to a chocolate cake. It’s just not. So, go ahead and whip this up! It’s a snap, and it’s elegant and rich and divine. Be sure to use good quality chocolate, I like Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips. You can pump up the spice factor to your liking. It’s fun to taste the batter, mix in a pinch more cayenne, taste again. I served it at the La Cena Espanol with a light dusting of powdered sugar and the peppers on top. Bonus presentation points! You could serve it alone or with whipped cream and fresh berries. Delicioso.
Some Like It Hot Flourless Chocolate Cake
Adapted from David Lebovitz and Simply Recipes
Makes one 9-inch, decadent cake
10 oz. of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
7 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into pieces
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (Or more if you like cinnamon)
Dash of cayenne pepper (Let your taste buds be your guide!)
Pinch of salt (I added an extra pinch because it’s good a little on the salty side)
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9 ½ inch springform pan with a circle of parchment paper. Grease the sides and the parchment with butter.
- Melt the chocolate and butter together over a double boiler, or carefully together in a pan, stirring occasionally until smooth.
- Whisk together the eggs and the sugar in a large bowl, and then slowly, a bit at a time, whisk in the melted chocolate. Add the salt and spices and taste, adjusting the spices if needed.
- Pour into the springform pan and bake for 22-25 minutes. It might not look completely done, but better to take it out early than bake it too long. Gooey is good. Let it cool completely on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Chocolate Dipped Hot Jalapenos
Serves the brave, the bold, and the tough taste budded among us.
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
10 fresh jalapenos (Although, I am of the opinion that almost anything tastes better dipped in chocolate. Be creative!)
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Rinse and dry the jalapenos.
- Melt the chocolate chips. (This is sometimes easier said than done. Mark Bittman wrote about “tempering chocolate” in his weekly column – The Minimalist – in The NY Times. If you have a candy thermometer (I don’t), you should follow his instructions. If you don’t have one, I still think the article is helpful because the idea behind tempering is that the chocolate shouldn’t be too hot while you’re dipping.)
- Dip the jalapenos in the melted chocolate. (I found that holding the pepper by the stem and then rolling it in the chocolate works best.)
- Cool on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.