Signature Dish of Leila

Chocolate Ancho Chile and Orange Cake

Leila's Chocolate Ancho Chile and Orange Cake

By Jacqueline McMahan from "The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook"

Leila's Notes: I first baked this cake for a Halloween party. It's not hard to make, intriguingly flavored. Very satisfying chocolate experience, with a twist. Made it again for the Christmas party.

I use my 50th Anniversary Fiesta Bundt pan which looks like a cross between a ziggurat and a bundt pan. It also looks vaguely Aztec. I like the use of Mezo-American ingredients (chocolate and ancho chile) and this weird neo-Aztec shape for a Halloween cake.

Halloween here in California is closely related to Dia De Los Muertes, the Mexican Day of the Dead. I think of this cake as a Day of the Dead cake.

1 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs, room temp
1 3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
Grated zest of 2 oranges
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup Chocolate Syrup (recipe follows)
4 tbls Ancho Chile Puree (recipe follows)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Orange Glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10 in" bundt pan.

Beat the butter, gradually beat in sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each. Slowly beat in flour & salt. Divide the batter in half. To half of the batter, add orange zest, orange juice and 1/2 tsp of baking soda. Spoon batter into the prepared pan.

To remaining batter, add chocolate syrup, ancho puree, vanilla and the remaining 1/2 tsp baking soda. Spread over the orange batter.

Bake 45-50 mins, or until cake tester inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool the cake in its pan on a rack for 10 min., then unmold onto a plate. Brush with the orange glaze.

You may drizzle an additional 1/4 cup chocolate syrup over the cake just before serving, if desired.

Serves 10

Chocolate Syrup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp honey
8 oz semisweet chocolate
1 oz unsweetened chocolate

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, until syrupis silky and smooth. Yields about 1 1/2 cups.

Ancho Chile Puree
4 ancho chiles (found in Mexican or Southwestern grocery stores)
Boiling water to cover

Rinse chiles. Place in a bowl & cover with boiling water; let soak for at least 2 hours. Remove seeds and stems from the chiles. Place chiles and 1/2 cup of soaking water in a blender. (If soaking liquid tastes bitter, use fresh water instead). Puree on high speed until smooth. May be refrigerated up to one week, or frozen.

Yields 3/4 cup puree

Orange glaze
Juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier

Combine - yields about 3/4 cup.

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