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Pepita Cake with Mexican Chocolate and Tequila {she made, ella hace}

Pepita Cake with Mexican Chocolate and Tequila |
This month for she made, ella hace, Leslie and I thought that chocolate would be a fitting theme. After all, Valentine's Day is tomorrow...and when one thinks Valentine's Day, one thinks chocolate. Funny how both of our dishes wound up using Mexican chocolate, though. That's just part of that connection we have - the one that makes me want to hang out with this cool chick  month after month.

The chocolate in the cake that I'm sharing to day may not be visible on first glance. The base for the cake is actually pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds). There is still some flour in there, but ground pepitas act as a flour, as well. Using them definitely reminds me of using coarse, freshly ground almonds in baked goods. It lends deep, earthy flavor, plus it makes for a super moist cake.

You may remember me mentioning that we have some friends that go to Mexico every year, and I'm so lucky that they always bring me back a few homemade disks of Mexican Chocolate. I adore the homemade variety beyond compare. Sure, I like the varieties you can buy at the store, too - but the homemade is soft and easy to break apart, and there's just something magical about chocolate made from scratch!

Pepita Cake with Mexican Chocolate and Tequila |
So, the chocolate comes into this cake once the batter has been mixed up; it's broken or cut into small chunks and folded in at the last minute. Once this humble cake bakes up, the chocolate is infused in every bite, lending both chocolate and cinnamon accents.

Oh, and did I mention that there's tequila in there, too? There totally is. Cake, chocolate, booze - I dub this a worthy Valentine's treat. Speaking of worthy Valentine's treats infused with the glory that is Mexican chocolate, you won't want to miss Leslie's Mexican Chocolate Arroz con Leche!

Pepita Cake with Mexican Chocolate and Tequila
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Pepita Cake with Mexican Chocolate and Tequila |

by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
Keywords: bake breakfast dessert vegetarian soy-free chocolate pepitas tequila butter cake American Mexican

Ingredients (serves 8)
  • 4 ounces (1 stick / 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature + more for greasing pan
  • 8 ounces (~1-3/4 cups) toasted salted pumpkin seeds, divided (I used Super Seedz Sea Salt variety)
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon tequila
  • 3 ounces Mexican chocolate, roughly chopped into small pieces
  • powdered sugar, to serve
Place an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350° F. Cut the butter into small chunks.

Use a little of the extra soft butter to grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan, then lay in a round of parchment paper and slather it generously with more butter. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the sugar on the bottom of the pan, then scatter 1/2 cup of the pepitas evenly over the sugar. Set aside.

Put the remaining 1-1/4 cups pepitas into the bowl of a food processor along with 1 cup of sugar. Pulse until pulverized (it should resemble damp sand). Add the eggs and butter and pulse again until everything is incorporated. Add the flour, baking powder, and tequila and pulse to combine again. Add the chopped chocolate and pulse again until it is mixed in, just another couple of pulses (you still want some small chunks).

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Slide into preheated oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Set pan on a rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then set a serving plate upside down over the pan and quickly turn to unmold. Remove parchment paper.

The cake will have a crunchy layer of lightly candied pepitas on the top. Once it has cooled, sift some powdered sugar over the top and serve.

-slightly adapted from Rick Bayless
Pepita Cake with Mexican Chocolate and Tequila |

What happens when two American girls who are both married to Mexican guys find out that although one of them lives in the U.S. and one of them lives in Mexico, they both love eating the same food?  Well, naturally they decide to get "together" the only way they can and cook up the same dishes.  Or perhaps take the same ingredients and talking about them in their own voice or using them in their own way. 

Leslie and I have teamed up to occasionally cook/bake/make a our own versions of the same food.  We want to see how similar (or how different) they turn out.  Other times we will pick an ingredient and use it however we choose...or maybe just talk about it.  Good food knows no borders and we hope to share the food we love with you.  It's not a competition, it's a showcase.  We will post on the same day as each other and would love to hear your thoughts on what we've made and how you make it. 

Join me (here at girlichef) and Leslie in her kitchen (at La Cocina de Leslie) for some delicious food.
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