Oaxacan Chocolate Cake

The story behind the cake:

It is believed that chocolate was first sweetened in Oaxaca by the hands of women. The Spanish weren't fond of the bitterness of cacao on its own—so to please them, cane sugar was added.

 My heart aches when I think of the Spanish conquest that infiltrated Mexico. Evangelical indoctrination washed clean so many indigenous beliefs held by my ancestors. But not all of them.

This cake holds so much symbolism for me. It marks owning my decisions, reclaiming myself, and loving myself.

I was raised with evangelical beliefs, those of which I've abandoned for something more true to my lineage and heart. This cake is my love for my heritage, my love for powerful women, and a turning point as I walk away from what has traumatized me and held me so un-lovingly.

There is often fear in being yourself. You may believe that the love others have for you is more than you have for yourself. Be courageous. If they stop loving you for being you, love yourself three times more.

A brief history on sweetened chocolate:

Today Oaxacan chocolate is a combination of cacao beans, almonds, cinnamon, and cane sugar. All of the ingredients are ground into a paste and combined with boiling water. The chocolate is then frothed with a molinillo and served.

Learning about this traditional way of preparing chocolate in Oaxaca, largely inspired me to bake this cake.

The recipe for traditional Oaxacan chocolate is commonly known, shared, and written—but it wasn't the first published recipe. 

"1631: The first publication of a recipe for chocolate was by the Spanish doctor Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma and was based on the Aztec recipe. The bitter flavor was enhanced by adding almonds, anise, cinnamon, flowers, hazelnuts, roses of Alexandria and vanilla."

-“The History of Chocolate.” The Chocolate Website, 25 Dec. 2018

Now don't get it twisted. A man published this recipe, but women have been the backbone of chocolate making since its discovery in Mesoamerica.

Women prepared the chocolate exclusively. It was a practice that took time to get just right, but despite the hard work, they were seldom welcomed to the table.

Indigenous women and women of color have been so resilient and essential in the development of foods we love. They deserve recognition.

About making the cake:

This cake took me a few tries to get just right, and I'm so pleased with the end result. This cake is beautifully moist and delicate. The almond flour in the recipe makes it tender and soft. The oil and yogurt give this cake great shelf life. This cake seriously stays good (actually gets even better) for about 5-7 days.

Anise and cinnamon are some of my favorite spices, and they really shine in this cake. Each bite is lovingly graced with the warmth of cinnamon and the uniqueness of anise.

 The buttercream—oh man. I could eat that on its own. The salt brings out the flavors, and the 100% cocoa chocolate brings depth to it.

I like eating my cake slice with a good amount of chopped salted almonds on top for crunch and balance.

Keep in mind that this cake will rise in the oven, but settle back down after cooling—that's totally normal. The cake flattening down makes for a rich texture.

When making this cake think of how far chocolate has traversed to get to you! Think of the people who ushered in this delicacy with their knowledge and skill. There is so much history in every crumb of food!


Yield: one 6 inch cake

The cake:
  • ¼ cup (20g) cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup (45g) boiling water
  • ½ cup (100g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 (50g) egg, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (54g) olive oil, or other neutral-tasting oil
  • ½ cup (130g) full-fat Greek yogurt 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 Tablespoons (48g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 ½ Tablespoons (22g) almond flour, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground anise seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 7 Tablespoons (100g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (120g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tablespoons (10g) cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ oz (14g) 100% cocoa chocolate, melted
  • 1-2 Tablespoons milk of choice
  • pinch of salt
Add ons:
  • food-grade dried rose petals
  • chopped roasted and salted almonds 
  • flakey salt

Preheat oven:

  • preheat oven to 350F°

Prepare cake pan:

  • Lightly grease a 6" cake pan. (this will help the parchment paper stick)
  • Cut a round piece of parchment paper and place it onto the bottom of the 6" cake pan. Line the sides of the cake pan with parchment paper, cut to size.  Make sure the cake pan is smoothly lined with parchment paper, using your hands to get rid of bubbles or wrinkles. Set aside.

Blooming the cocoa:

  • Begin by scooping the cocoa powder into a mug or small heat-safe bowl. Bring water to a boil and pour over the cocoa powder ¼ cup of boiling water. Mix well until the mixture becomes smooth. Set aside.
Making the cake:
  • in a medium-sized bowl combine together the brown sugar and oil. Add in the egg and whisk until combined. Lastly add the yogurt, vanilla, and bloomed cocoa. Whisk until smooth. set aside.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients.
  • Add the dry into the wet, in three parts. Mix until there are no more streaks of flour.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared 6" cake pan.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F°, or until the cake springs back slightly to the touch and a toothpick comes out dry with a few crumbs on it.
  • Allow the cake to cool for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove the cake from the pan and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.
Making the buttercream:
  • With an electric hand mixer cream the butter until smooth. Next, sift in the cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt. Mix on low speed. 
  • Once combined, add in the powdered sugar, melted chocolate, and a splash of milk.
  • Beat together until fluffy and smooth.
Putting it all together:
  • Once the cake is completely cooled frost the top and sides with the buttercream using an offset spatula.
  • Using a spoon make some swoops in the buttercream.
  • Sprinkle the top with chopped almonds, rose petals, and flakey salt as desired.
  • Now cut yourself a piece and indulge!

Enjoy! If you made this recipe post it to Instagram Instagram free icon using the #ingrainedkitchen hashtag and mentioning @ingrainedkitchen


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