Chocolate Cayenne Cupcakes

A few months ago, a coworker of mine brought in "Mexican Brownies" for our department's Food Day. Apparently, these brownies had a little cayenne surprise mixed into them. I was excited to try them and discovered that they were a spicy, sweet treat. Hey, I like spices and I like sweet stuff. And speaking of sweet stuff, why couldn't I convert these into a cupcake...


Chocolate Cayenne Cupcakes
slightly adapted from ICE Cupcake Workshop's Chocolate Cupcakes recipe
yields ~24 cupcakes

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream or buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2) Combine the eggs, sour cream and vanilla in a large bowl and set aside.

3) Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in another bowl. Set aside.

4) Combine the water, cocoa and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

5) Remove from heat and immediately whisk this into the egg mixture. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until combined. (Don't worry...the eggs won't scramble.)

6) Add cayenne pepper to batter and whisk to incorporate. (Note: Add the cayenne pepper gradually and taste after each addition. Add more or less cayenne pepper based on your preference.)

7) Pour into cupcake liners and bake about 25 minutes or until the center springs back when touched.

I wasn't sure how I wanted to frost these at first. Then I recalled that we had learned how to make a ganache in ICE's Cupcake Workshop which I took a few weeks ago. In the spirit of being unique (and a little lazy, since I wouldn't have to pipe it), I decided to go with the ganache as a frosting for these cuppies.

Thin Chocolate Glaze
recipe from ICE Cupcake Workshop

  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

1) Place the chocolate in a bowl. Set aside.

2) In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and corn syrup. Bring to a boil.

3) Remove from heat and immediately pour on the chocolate. Allow to stand 1 minute.

4) Add in butter and stir until smooth and glossy.

5) Dip cupcakes into ganache. You may need to smooth the ganache over the top of the cupcake.

6) Optional: You can recreate this ganache with white chocolate instead of semi-sweet chocolate. I added red dye and drizzled over the ganache.

In my opinion, the cupcakes were tasty but a little dense. I usually like my cupcakes to be a little lighter. However, most of my taste testers didn't actually share my opinion and really liked the moist texture of the cupcakes. The chocolate flavor was pronounced and the cayenne pepper gives you a mild kick in the mouth a few seconds after you've finished chewing and swallowing the cupcake. Since I used semi-sweet chocolate for the ganache, the cupcake didn't end up being too sweet. Overall, there is a nice balance so that you don't get a complete sugar rush with each bite.