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When I was trying to decide on a recipe for this week, I thought it was time for a classic chocolate cake. However, while scanning the pantry to see if I needed to stock up on any ingredients, my tin of Aztec Hot Chocolate stared back at me, as if to say “I Dare You”.  Never one to turn down a challenge, instead of reaching for the Unsweetened Cocoa, I pulled out the Spicy Aztec.  A little nervous about recipe improvisation when cayenne pepper was involved, I was pleasantly surprised when the cake turned out with a strong likeness to our famous hot chocolate.

I realized the chocolate cake would need the perfect frosting.  Since we’re making a cake from hot chocolate, I decided to go with the theme, and make a Cinnamon Marshmallow Frosting I came across in Vermont’s own Eating Well Magazine. And with a last-minute nod toward our Organic Spicy Aztec Bar, I pulled out my stash of pepitas – the Mexican pumpkin seeds that are sprinkled throughout our Aztec Bar – and scattered those on top.

Cake
2 c flour
1 ¼ c Lake Champlain Chocolates Aztec Hot Chocolate
1 c sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper (use less if you like less heat)
2 heaping tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2/3 c vegetable oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
4 tsp vanilla extract
2 c warm water

Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease two 9” cake pans and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, spices, baking powder and baking soda.  Make sure they are well-incorporated.  Separately, combine the vegetable oil, vinegar, vanilla and warm water.  Add the wet ingredients to dry, mixing until just combined.  Do not over mix.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely in cake pan on cooling rack.

Frosting
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup water
4 teaspoons dried egg whites (see Note), reconstituted according to package directions (equivalent to 2 egg whites)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish

Eating Well’s Ingredient Note: Dried egg whites are pasteurized so this product is a wise choice in dishes that call for an uncooked meringue.

Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler.  Combine 1 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup water in the top of the double boiler. Heat over the simmering water, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Add reconstituted egg whites, cream of tartar and pinch of salt. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the mixture is glossy and thick, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the top pan from the heat and continue beating for 1 minute more to cool. Add vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and beat on low just to combine. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cooled cake and sprinkle cinnamon on top, if desired.

Frosting recipe doubled for two-layer cake.