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Mexican chocolate (Recipe: Mexican chocolate "diablo" cupcakes)

Mexican chocolate cupcakes, rich enough not to need any frosting.

Hi-Lo Foods, a small supermarket in the Latino section of Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood, devotes half an aisle to Mexican chocolate. Shopping at the Hi-Lo is an experience in sensory overload in every aisle, but for anyone with a sweet tooth, the chocolate aisle might be the most sensory of all.

I live more than an hour away, so when I do get there, I stock up. In addition to the traditional disks of Ibarra (from Guadalajara, Mexico) and Abuelita (from Nestle), the Hi-Lo sells bars, chips, cocoa mixes, and chocolate candies of every shape and size.

Traditionally, Mexican chocolate is used to make a hot chocolate drink, whipped by hand with a wooden molinillo, the indigenous form of the swizzle stick.

As is true of many things in The Perfect Pantry, I own more than one molinillo. More than two. Okay, four. Two were gifts, and two were market finds in Mexico, for a dollar or so.

Though it's a tool used for just one thing, the molinillo is prized for form as well as function. Every molinillo carver has his own style; each of the four in my collection has something different about it.

You'll taste the difference in recipes that use Mexican chocolate, too. More earthy, more nuanced, warm, sometimes a bit floral and, despite the presence of sugar in the chocolate itself, less sweet.

Try it, if you aren't already familiar with this ingredient, and let me know what you think.

What is Mexican chocolate?
Dark chocolate cacao nibs ground together with sugar and cinnamon. The texture is a bit granular.

How/where to store:
In the cupboard, in its original packaging, for a year or more. Each disk is sealed in plastic.

More facts about Mexican chocolate, and ingredient photos, on The Perfect Pantry:
Mexican chocolate (Recipe: mole colorado)

Mexicanc chocolate cupcakes 

Mexican chocolate "diablo" cupcakes

I admit that, when it comes to baking, I'm not afraid to take some help from store-bought products. These cupcakes began with a whole grain devil's food chocolate muffin mix. If you want to start from scratch, you can find devil's food cupcake recipes on Food Blog Search. Mild New Mexico chile powder gives a bit of undertone, but doesn't make these cupcakes spicy. My husband Ted's co-workers inhaled these; I think you'll like them, too. Makes 10-11 cupcakes, or two dozen minis.


1 box devil's food muffin or cake mix (whole grain preferred)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp New Mexico red chile powder
A pinch of kosher salt and fresh black pepper
2 large eggs*
3/4 cup water*
3 Tbsp canola oil*
1 disk (3.1 oz) Mexican chocolate, cut into small bits the size of chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the dry muffin mix, cinnamon and chile powder, plus salt and pepper. Add *eggs, water and oil (in whatever amounts the mix specifies). Stir until the mix is just combined, then add the chocolate bits and stir until the chips are incorporated and all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix.

Use an ice cream scoop with a release (called a "disher") to distribute the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake in the center of the oven for 16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the largest cupcake comes out clean.

Let cupcakes rest in the muffin pan for a few minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Can be stored, covered, at room temperature for 2 days, or in the freezer in ziploc bags. These cupcakes taste even better on the second day.

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Mexican chocolate pots de creme
Chocolate-orange sorbet
Chocolate double ginger cupcakes
Sugar-free chocolate cupcakes
Chocolate spice cookies

Other recipes that use Mexican chocolate:
Mexican chocolate ice cream, from Amanda's Cookin'
Mexican chocolate pralines, from Homesick Texan
Champurrado, from What's Cooking?
Mexican chocolate tart with cinnamon-spiced pecans, from Love and Olive Oil
Crepes with Mexican chocolate sauce, from MexConnect

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I am always looking for the unusual or slightly different and I believe I'll have to try these. Thanks!

I have to admit, I've never tried Mexican chocolate. So, I'll be doing a stock up the next time I come across it.

I have a molinillo too! I bought it in Oaxaca -- where you can find chocolate factories just a few blocks out from the main square. I think they also grind other things into the chocolate -- like nuts and seeds.

In "The True History of Chocolate" Sophie Coe says the molinillo was probably introduced from Mexico to Spain in the 16th century. She describes their use in some detail. That's a great and very comprehensive book about chocolate.

These sound fabulous! There is a cupcakery here that makes an El Diablo cupcake with Mexican Chocolate and a bit of Cayenne (I think). These look very doable! Now, I am going to have to look for Mexican chocolate.

It was surprisingly difficult to get this even in Mexico City (I was probably in an overly modernized section?); but finally found some at the airport just on the way home. Wish I'd bought more. There are also parallel versions in Spain - I've bought some in Barcelona, though they are more like refined imitations.

I wish I had one right now to eat with my coffee!

I love Mexican chocolate! You are making me miss Boston to the max. I need to locate a store like this in NYC...harder than you'd think. these look delicious!

They look wonderful little cakes ! Very hard to find those ingredients though here in Australia,sadly.

Yet another perk about living in Texas is the close proximity to Mexico and all of its goodies. Where I live I can get basically anything that is sold in Mexico so yes I have dabbled in the mexican chocolate and love it. I know this might sound weird but with every batch of brownies I make I add a good 1 to 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper. I love the way it wakes up your taste buds and makes them pay attention to what you are eating. In my opinion it does not make them hot because it is balanced out with the sweet and savory of the other ing. You all should try it.

I have heard that if you don't have Mexican chocolate available, you can add a tiny bit of almond extract and an even tinier bit of cinnamon. What do you think, Lydia?

Susie, these are definitely a bit different than your typical chocolate cupcake. I hope you like them.

TW, Mexican chocolate isn't something you're likely to eat straight out of the package; it's a bit chalky in flavor compared to regular chocolate, despite being ground with sugar. But you'll really like baking with it.

Julia, isn't Oaxaca one of the most interesting places? I loved the markets in and around the city.

Mae, thanks so much for adding to our knowledge. I love my molinillos!

Chris, I love the combination of chile and chocolate. The New Mexico chile is a bit less hot than cayenne, but either would be delicious here.

Paul, I'm surprised you had trouble finding this in Mexico. It's probably easier to find online now.

Kalyn, we stashed a few in the freezer when I made these, and they were even better when they were just defrosted. Fortunately I didn't make more!

Joanne, I'm sure some New York readers can help you out. Anyone???

Kate, the internet can help!

Tania, the first time I had cayenne in chocolate, I was amazed at how delicious it is. I'm a real lover of spicy food, but cayenne doesn't seem to make chocolate spicy. It just makes it more chocolate-y.

Donna, I don't know about almond, but definitely adding cinnamon will simulate the flavor of Mexican chocolate.

Great idea. I make brownies using Mexican chocolate and they are one of my favorite desserts, despite the fact that I'm not a huge chocolate fan. Something about the bitterness of Mexican chocolate though...yum. I'm bookmarking these for the next time I get a chocolate craving.

I'm a bit of a chocolate fanatic, devoting an entire shelf of my pantry to different chocolates from around the world. I love baking with it and seeing what I come up with. A dear friend of mine has been giving me Mexican chocolate, and I didn't know what exactly to do with it. Thanks to your informative (and tasty) article and recipe, I feel like I can embark on a new chocolate adventure with confidence. Thanks for the fantastic recipe!

I have been curious about Mexican chocolate but didn't know anything about it, but now I know!! The cupcakes look so delicious. Very nice blog by the way.

Ooooh. I'd like one of these, please!

I wish I had had your recipe back when I had Mexican chocolate in the cupboard going unused! I love the cupcakes idea!

These sound delicious! I wonder if we have this in our regular grocery stores in Texas? Hmmm.

Loving your new header, too!

Arugulove, I'm not a real sweets lover, either, which I think is why I love these cupcakes. That, and the chile!

PunkRizz, there are a few other recipes on this site that use Mexican chocolate, too.

EMK, thank you so much. Hope you'll try these cupcakes. They are delicious.

Michelle, sorry, all gone!

Taste of Beirut, now you'll have to track down more Mexican chocolate!

Bridget, my fantasy about Texas is that all of the grocery stores look like stores in Mexico. I'd love to have the wide variety of Mexican products available here in RI.


my newest mexican cupcake creations.

LOVE your recipe..must taste delicious!!


The cakes look great, I must admit I had never heard of a molinillo, must give great results to such cakes consistancy. Also mexican chocolate is not something you hear of every day, I guess swiss is what people first think off. I will have to get hold of some now.

What kind of frosting would you use for these?

Pastichick, I'd probably go with a vanilla buttercream.

Thanks for the info. I seriously never knew what Mexican chocolate was. These look so good and the best kind of breakfast... I mean snack! Oh if I wasn't eating them plain I'd smear a dab of simple chocolate buttercream on them.

I LOVE chocolate and chile together - MUST try these!

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