So Cinco de Mayo is coming up–next week, yay!
I don’t know about you, but I’m stoked.
Little known secret: I should totally be Mexican. Like, not even kidding you. I live & breathe Mexican food.
But let’s get one thing straight–I live & breathe REAL Mexican food.
Taco Bell dollar menu is not real Mexican food. Nor is Del Tac. Anything that has a drive-thru open until midnight or later is not real Mexican food. And probably not real food.
That’s not to say I dislike the ‘Bell, because it has its time and place and surrrriously, I love their Fresco bean burritos (okay, and I should preface that when I eat said burritos, I like taking a small bite from the tortilla, literally sucking the entire insides out, and then eating the tortilla. Like a Mexican food vampire or something. I also eat all the toppings off my pizza, then the crust, and eat all the sammich innards first, then the bread. I rule at eating, obvi) but it isn’t real Mexican food.
Real Mexican food is the stuff you can order in a Spanish accent and they get it. They know you. You’re ordering CAAAARNEEETAHS and GOOHUACAMOLAY and doing it with a Spanish flair.
And FYI, I am throwing Chipotle into the semi-real Mexican category because Jessie and I have a Chipotle blood-type (thanks to eating there like, twice a week) and I LOVE their guac in my chicken burrito bowls. Plus, the corn salsa is ahhmaaazing. End Chipotle rant.
Anywho, I used to (stupidly) dislike Mexican food, mostly because what we ate consisted of drive-thru and tacos, which my mom SUPERREGULARLY rotated throughout our dinners each week that I became nasty-sick of them. Like, even smelling tortilla shells frying was enough to make me bury my face into a box of Kraft mac n cheese and swear off any Mexican food fo’ lyfe.
But I turned a new leaf and discovered the real deal stuff. We went to a real deal restaurant and I got freshly made tortillas and creamy refried beans and enchiladas that didn’t taste like the ones I had at home. And the sopapillas! OMG. I think sopapillas were my gateway back into the mariachi band.
Plus, despite being the whitest people EVER, my family and I celebrate Mexican holidays like no one’s business. Okay, so we celebrate Dia de los Muertos and Cinco de Mayo because they’re excellent excuses to eat copious amounts of good food and drink margaritas and coronas. Plus, sugar skulls rock and I totally want a tattoo of one.
You know, since I SHOULD be Mexican.
But there was always one thing about Mexican food (besides the whole tripe thing) that irked me, and that was chiles in chocolate.
I could never fathom the concept of sticking a spicy chipotle into creamy chocolate. Why would you ruin a great thing? It’s almost as miserable sounding as the idea that Heidi and Seal broke up. I mean, I’m sooooo confused.
But after I made THESE cookies that catapulted my taste buds to heaven’s gates, I amended my outlook on spice and chocolate a little bit. Granted, neither the cookies nor these amazing Mexican Mocha Cupcakes with Kahlua Frosting are made with spicy chiles, but they are both sprinkled with a healthy heap of cinnamon, which lends such a warm and spiced flavor to these rich, chocolate cupcakes.
Mexican Mocha Cupcakes with Kahlua Frosting *inspired by my cookie recipe
1 box German chocolate cake mix (yeah, we’re mixing cultures)
1 cup strongly brewed black coffee
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup oil
2 heaping teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 small box sugar free/fat free instant chocolate pudding mix
Kahlua Frosting (recipe & ingredients follow)
Chocolate Skulls (info follows)
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin tins with about 18 paper liners and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat together the cake mix, coffee, water, oil, eggs and cinnamon until blended. Stir in the dry pudding mix to combine. Portion the batter evenly among the muffin cups and bake for approx. 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
2/3 cup butter, softened
5 Tbsp Kahlua coffee liqueur
Splash of vanilla extract
About 5 cups powdered sugar
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, Kahlua and vanilla until blended and smooth, about a minute. Gradually add powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, until frosting is light and fluffy.
2. Pipe the frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Garnish with gold sprinkles and chocolate skulls.
**Note: I found my skull mold at Halloweentime by Martha Stewart at Michael’s craft store. Seeing as Halloween is months away, I found a similar product here. You could also try local craft and candy making stores to find similar molds. Or, omit the skulls and use chocolate covered coffee beans, mini chocolate chips, or chocolate sprinkles.**
1. I should be part Mexican.
2. I justify the above statement because I eat Chipotle regularly and am obsessed with sugar skulls.
3. I think that’s justification enough. Don’t tell me otherwise.
4. Chocolate and cinnamon are BFFs. Accept it!
Have a great day!