At mile 21 of Sunday’s Walt Disney World Marathon, I used a visualization technique to survive the final, painfully long leg. I envisioned myself sprawled out on my couch come Monday, swaddled in fuzzy blankets, Downton Abbey‘s season two premiere streaming off my DVR, and a freshly baked dessert sitting on my lap.

“Matthew… Chocolate… Couch… Matthew… Chocolate…”

I didn’t know what I would make but I knew it would involve chocolate and cake.

I think this recipe was a bit of serendipity. Not only did the cake meet the first two criteria, it also happened to be the creation of Rick Bayless, a Chicago chef. As you know, my next dream marathon would be Chicago. It seemed fitting to bake his recipe for my Downton Abbey Couch Fest 2012.

My plans were almost hindered by the “Mexican” chocolate. I spent a good hour wandering around my local grocery store in search of Mexican chocolate only to come up empty handed. I decided to make it work. What makes Mexican chocolate special, Google? From what I gathered, it appeared I could make up the flavor profile by adding cinnamon and almond. Lo and behold, it worked!

This cake is to die for. Honestly. It’s best served warm. The flavor is complex and each bite melts in your mouth. It was everything I had envisioned and more.

Mexican Chocolate Streusel Cake

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Topping:

2- 4 oz. Ghiradelli 60% chocolate bars

1 small egg yolk

3 1/2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup (2.25 ounces) all-purpose flour

Cake:

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/2 teaspoon plus 1 pinch baking powder

4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

powdered sugar, for dusting the finished cake

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Pulse half of the chocolate and 1/2 tsp cinnamon in a food processor until it is the consistency of coarse crumbs. Remove and set aside for the batter.

Add remaining chocolate and cinnamon to processor and pulse to coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk to the processor along with the 3 ½ tablespoons butter and ½ cup flour. Pulse until you get a coarse, crumbly mixture. Set aside.

Now make the cake. Sift together the 4 oz flour and baking powder; set aside.

Beat the butter and cream cheese together, then beat in sugar. When light and fluffy, beat in the eggs one at a time and almond extract.

Add the sifted flour mixture, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat just until the flour is incorporated. Do not over-mix.

Stir the reserved chopped chocolate into the batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth.

Crumble the streusel topping evenly over the batter, making sure there are no large lumps.

Bake in the center of the oven until springy (the edges will have just begun to pull away from the sides of the pan) and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm, dusted with powdered sugar.

Serves: 6

Adapted from: Cookie Madness 1/2 recipe from Rick Bayless

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