Saturday, August 09, 2008

Mexican Chocolate Streusel Cake

Another venture into Rick Bayless's Mexico: One Plate at a Time. This time I decided to try a chocolate streusel cake. It just sounded very yummy. Our grocery store has a great ethnic-foods aisle so I knew I'd be able to find some inexpensive Mexican chocolate. I meant to make this last weekend but I didn't buy enough chocolate and then we didn't have enough eggs.

I am sad to say that I couldn't really lighten this... I only used about 2/3 of the streusel topping, and I used 1/3-less-fat cream cheese in the cake batter, but I think there is still quite a lot of butter and eggs and chocolate. Oh well. Small pieces, people. Small pieces.

It's pretty good, but it's nothing spectacular. We enjoyed that it tastes different from what we expected. It's a mildly sweet basic cake with flecks of chocolate throughout, and the streusel on top (though it kind of sunk into the batter and melted). We liked it but probably won't make it again due to the nutritional factors.

I did not dust it with powdered sugar.

Mexican Chocolate Streusel Cake (Pastel de Chocolate Mexicano)
Mexico: One Plate at Time by Rick Bayless

Tightly wrapped, the finished cake keeps beautifully for several days. You might want to rewarm pieces of the cake in a low oven before serving.

One 18 or 19 oz package Mexican chocolate, roughly chopped

For the streusel topping:
1 large egg yolk
Salt (optional)
3 1/2 oz (7 Tbsp) butter, at room temperature
1 cup (4 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour

For the cake:
1 3/4 cups (8 oz) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
One 8oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
8 oz (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Powder sugar for dusting the cake

1. The Streusel Topping. In a food processor, pulse half of the Mexican chocolate until it is the consistency of coarse crumbs. Remove and set aside for the batter. Add the remaining chocolate to the processor and process it to the consistency of coarse crumbs. Mix the egg yolk and 1/2 tsp salt (if using salted butter, omit the salt) in a small mixing bowl, stirring to dissolve the salt. Add to the processor along with the butter and the flour. Pulse just until everything is thoroughly combined - it should look crumbly, not be processed to a paste. Set aside.

2. The Cake. Heat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Sift together the flour and baking powder.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beating on medium speed, combine the cream cheese, butter, and granulated sugar. Beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. One at a time, add the eggs, beating until each one is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next. Add the sifted flour mixture, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat for 1 minute, just until the flour is incorporated. Last, use a large spoon to stir the reserved chopped chocolate into the batter.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Crumble the streusel topping evenly over the batter, making sure there are no large lumps - lumps may sink during baking. 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 toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack (in my opinion, this cake tastes best when still slightly warm), then cut into squares and serve dusted with powdered sugar. Vanilla, caramel, or cinnamon-scented ice cream sure goes well with a bite of this pastel.

Yield: 12 servings (BIG servings - this can definitely feed more than 12)

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