This is a recipe for Chile Chocolate Bourbon Cake. A beautifully flavored chocolate cake topped with a rich decadent chocolate frosting spiked with bourbon.
No need to wait for a special occasion to bake a chocolate cake, any time is a good time. It makes people happy, it satisfies the cake lover and the chocolate lover.
This chocolate cake takes it one step further and appeals to the Southwest New Mexico Chile powder-loving crowd.
With two tablespoons of pure New Mexico Chimayo Chile powder mixed in with the cake batter, you’ll love this hint of rustic heat that enhances the chocolate.
Where Did I Learn To Make This Recipe?
This recipe comes to us from the famous Fort Restaurant. The Fort Restaurant is a Denver landmark full of western culture, history, charm and western food.
For over forty years, the Fort has been “the place” to take out-of-town guests for a taste of the Wild West. With its unique menu items and servers dressed like Kit Carson, The Fort recalls the years when trappers, settlers and Army explorers first traveled the Santa Fe Trail to our region.
One of their most famous appetizers is this one for Peanut Butter Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers. And they’re also known for their cocktail Salty Dog with Saddle Leather.
Recipe for Chile Chocolate Bourbon Cake
While this cake started as The Fort’s house cake for birthday and anniversary celebrations, customer demand convinced them to put it on the menu as an everyday item.
The Fort still serves a complimentary slice to everyone marking a special occasion along with putting a ceremonial headdress on their heads as the staff shouts “hip, hip, buzzha” The Fort doesn’t do anything halfway.
The cake is made with red chile powder to honor the ancient Aztec tradition of spiking drinking chocolate with a little heat. This makes sense when you remember that it wasn’t until the Europeans took chocolate back to the Old World that anyone had thought to sweeten it. Before then, it was made into a bitter but much appreciated ceremonial brew.
You’ll feel a slight burn at thee back of your throat when you take a bite of this luscious cake, but that will quickly turn into a warm flavorful glow. The bourbon flavor frosting brings its own kick.
I hope you give this Chile Chocolate Bourbon Cake a try, and if you do, please come back and give the recipe a star rating and leave a comment about your experience with the recipe.
If you’re looking for unique chocolate cake ideas, this is the one to try.
And don’t miss my Dessert Category. You’ll find lots of mouth watering dessert recipes including this one for German Chocolate Poke Cake.
Chile Chocolate Bourbon Cake
- 1 to 2 tablespoons New Mexico medium ground red chile powder Chimayo or Dixon is the best, to taste
- 2 cups water
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour not self-rising
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened non alkalized cocoa powder ch as Hershey, Nestlé, or Ghirardelli (do not use Dutch process)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- Ingredients for The Frosting
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
- 3/4 cup unsweetened nonalkalized cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- 4 to 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 to 3 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans lightly toasted (optional)
- For the Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and place a rack in the center of the oven.
- Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Lightly dust the sides of the pans with flour, tapping out the excess and line the bottom with circles of parchment or waxed paper.
- In a medium saucepan, cook the chile powder in 1 cup of the water over medium heat until simmering. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and set aside.
- Using a mixer with a wire whip attachment for best results, combine the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa and beat on low speed until well mixed. Add the softened butter to the dry mixture and beat thoroughly on medium-low speed. The mixture should be a uniform, grainy texture.
- Raise the speed to medium and gradually add the remaining 1 cup of water and the buttermilk. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Slowly add the hot water/chile mixture and continue to beat just until well combined; be sure not to overbeat. Pour the mixture equally into the pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer comes out clean.
- To cool, set the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Then turn the cakes out onto the rack, remove the paper from the bottom, and immediately invert so that the risen tops don’t flatten. Let the layers cool completely before frosting.
- For the Frosting:
- Combine the butter and cocoa in a large saucepan and melt over medium heat. Stir in the buttermilk. Add the confectioners’ sugar, a little at a time, stirring with a wire whisk between additions.
- Stir in the bourbon and vanilla and continue to whisk until the frosting is smooth and glossy. The frosting should stiffen as it cools. (In warm weather you may need to refrigerate it.) When it is still warm, but has reached a spreadable consistency, you can assemble the cake.
- Final Assembly
- If necessary, trim the tops of the cakes so that they are level. Place one of the cake layers on a 9-inch round cardboard cake circle. Spread 1 cup of the frosting over the layer. Sprinkle 1 cup of the chopped walnuts, if using, evenly over the frosting. Place the second layer of cake on the frosted base.
- Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. Finish the top of the cake by holding the spatula at a slight angle and making several strokes to smooth the top. To decorate the cake, press the remaining walnuts onto the lower half of the sides and on top of the cake.
- This cake is best when made 1 to 2 days before serving as it gives the flavors time to blend.
Chile Chocolate Cake …. It’s What’s for Dessert
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If you’ve tried this or any other recipe on my website, please leave a star rating in the recipe card below. And write a review in the comment section. I always appreciate your feedback.
Linda Breau says
Woww! What kick, My Family will love it. Thank you!!!!!
Is this recipe adjusted already for altitude? We’re just up the road from the Fort, in Conifer. Thanks!
Lea Ann Brown says
Hi Amy. Great question and I’m going to answer that question “yes”. I’ve made the cake twice without incident. And the recipe comes from the Fort Recipe whose location is slightly higher than were I live.
It comes from a cookbook that is distrubuted nationwide, and I’ve always wondered if people who make this at lower elevations have trouble. I think I’ll email the owner and she if I get a response.
Please let me know if you have any issues.
Did anyone find out about the altitude question? I’m going to try it at just above sea level and was wondering if I need to make any adjustments?
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
Thanks to both you and the Fort for sharing this delicious looking cake…love all the flavors going on. Chilies and bourbon, it must be memorable.
I would Love to win this cook book so that I may Be able to make the food I truly Love. Thank you for the opportunity to have a chance to do so. Looking forward to making this cake soon. There is no food like south western.
Abbe@This is How I Cook says
So yes, we used to take the kids to The Fort for their birthday and have photos to prove it! Now I can make this cake at home? Can’t wait! It’s been awhile but I also used to stuff jalapenos with peanut butter. They were a hit!
All I can say is YUM! Printed and waiting for the occasion!
Oh My goodness!! This is something I would totally love! Now to make it gluten free 😀 I have never been to The Fort!
This sounds so fantastic! What a scrumptious cake to serve at a special occasion. I love The Fort and have fingers crossed I win a copy of their cookbook.
John / Kitchen Riffs says
Chocolate and chile peppers really play together nicely. Black pepper, too. This is a wonderful looking cake — great recipe. Thanks.
I can not wait to try this cake!
Oh wow– 2 tablespoons of chile powder– count me in! Can you believe that I haven’t been to the Fort? I’ve lived here too many years not to have eaten at this special restaurant. Must change that this year!