Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cayenne Buttercream

I know I’ve been making a bunch of chocolate cupcakes lately, but I hadta do this one 🙂 I absolutely love hot chocolate, especially mexican hot chocolate.  It’s got everything that I love: chocolate and spicy!

Mexican hot chocolate is actually a very ancient drink that dates back to the Aztecs in the 15th century!! By the 15th century, the Aztecs gained control of a large part of Mesoamerica, and adopted cacao into their culture. They associated chocolate with Xochiquetzal, the goddess of fertility, and often used chocolate beverages as sacred offerings, now I like the sound of that! The Aztec adaptation of the drink was a bitter, frothy, spicy drink called xocolatl, made much the same way as the Mayan chocolate drinks. It was often seasoned with vanilla, chile pepper, and achiote, and was believed to fight fatigue, which is probably attributable to the theobromine content, a mood enhancer. Because cacao would not grow in the dry central Mexican highlands and had to be imported, chocolate was an important luxury good throughout the Aztec empire, and cocoa beans were often used as currency. Wouldn’t that be lovely, using chocolate as money? I’d certainly be poor cuz I’d eat all of my savings 🙂 Alright, so back to the cupcakes!

Okay so they are really really easy. It’s a pretty basic chocolate batter recipe except you include these key ingredients:

Yum yum! So you mix together dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately and then together. Pour batter into your prepared cupcake tins and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Delicccciiioouuuusssssss! Now on to the frosting. Make a simple Swiss Meringue Buttercream*, but replace the white cane sugar with brown sugar as such:

Then add 1/2 tbsp cinnamon, 1/2 tbsp chili powder and 1 tbsp cayenne pepper. I also tinted it with some burgundy and peach gel coloring.

I’m not sure why the lighting is like this, but the frosting is actually a lot pinker than the photo shows. Anyway, put your buttercream in a pastry bag and pipe it on the way you like!

I decided that they still needed a little bit more sparkle so I prinkled on some red sanding sugar, some white nonpareils and sprinkled a touch of chili powder on the cupcakes 🙂

They were very yummy with a wonderful kick!

*There’s a trick with Swiss Meringue Buttercream. A lot of people get scared off by it because when they first start mixing everything the frosting gets less firm and sometimes looks like it’s curdling. Don’t fret! Put on the paddle attachment to your mixture and keep paddling until it gets thicker and smoother. Trust me, eventually, it will! You just havta keep your faith! 🙂




  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 24 standard cupcake pans with liners, or coat with non-stick cooking spray.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer, stir together the sugar, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, until blended.

2. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt chili powder and cinnamon, and gradually add to the sugar mixture, until the mixture begins to come together.

3. Ladle or scoop the batter into the cupcake tins, filling ¾ full.  Bake the cupcakes for 15 to 18 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center of each one comes out clean.

4. Cool the cupcakes in their pans on wire racks until cooled.




  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  • Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
  • Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
  • With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla, chili powder, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

    I hope you guys enjoy!




    me. 🙂


    2 responses to “Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cayenne Buttercream

    1. I made these cupcakes and I love them. The frosting is a little too buttery so I’ll have to tweak that next time but wow, I love spicy chocolate.

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