When you think Rick Bayless you probably think Mexican food, but what I’ve learned over the years is that (other than being one of the nicest chefs I’ve ever met) he is a really good with desserts. Every time I try one I’m surprised by just how good it is, and I usually go on to make it again and again. The Mexican Chocolate Streusel Cake is an example of that.
Taste and Texture
The original recipe appeared at one point on Frontera’s website. It’s also in One Plate at a Time. My version’s a little different because I halve it and bake it in an 8 inch square pan. So yes, a little different. The cake has cream cheese in the batter so the crumb is very moist. In addition, you fold crumbled Mexican chocolate into the batter, which melts into kind of a light, brown, cinnamon-y flavor.
This dessert is fun because it calls for Mexican chocolate. If you are not familiar with it, read up! I’m no expert on Mexican Chocolate, but I can tell you it’s grainy, usually infused with cinnamon, and is best chopped up and used in recipes. When I first started making the cake years ago I used Ibarra. That’s still a good choice, but there are more brands of Mexican chocolate available now so you may want to experiment. Taza is a good one.
Mexican Chocolate Streusel Cake
9.5 oz (266 grams) Mexican chocolate, chopped (something like Ibarra)
1 small egg yolk or half a large egg yolk**
¼ teaspoon salt
3 1/2 tablespoons (50 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (63 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons(114 grams) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder plus 1 pinch baking powder
1/2 block cream cheese, at room temperature (114 grams)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (114 grams)
1/3 cup granulated sugar (65 grams)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
Powdered sugar, for dusting the finished cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square pan. I’ve always used metal for this, but I’m sure glass would work.
Make streusel first. Pulse about half (4.5 oz) of the Mexican chocolate in a food processor until it is the consistency of coarse crumbs. Remove and set aside for the batter.
Add remaining Mexican chocolate to processor and pulse to coarse crumbs. Mix the egg yolk and 1/4 teaspoon salt (if using salted butter, omit the salt) in a small bowl to dissolve the salt. Add to the processor along with the 3 ½ tablespoon butter and ½ cup flour. Pulse until you get a coarse, crumbly mixture – not a paste! Set aside.
Now make the cake. Whisk together the flour and baking powder; set aside.
Beat the softened butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer, then beat in sugar. When light and fluffy, beat in the eggs one at a time beating for 30 seconds after each egg.
Add the flour mixture, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat just until the flour is incorporated (I do this with a spoon – don’t overbeat).
Stir the reserved chopped chocolate into the batter.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth. Crumble the streusel topping evenly over the batter, making sure there are no large lumps.
Bake in the center of the oven until springy (the edges will have just begun to pull away from the sides of the pan) and a wooden pick inserted at the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm, dusted with powdered sugar, or serve at room temperature.