Some Like It Hot: Fig and Chile Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Ice Cream

For me, it’s like heaven on earth. I’m mad about spicy chocolate; Dagoba’s “Xocolatl” is my all time favorite bar. And this cake is my favorite flourless chocolate cake. It’s spiced just enough (you won’t burn your palate, don’t worry). The texture is reminiscent of dense chocolate mousse. And I love this light crunch the figs give to the cake.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner it might be just a thing to serve. Let me put it this way… if you are looking forward to a marriage proposal, make the cake. It will definitely facilitate the event. Make the ice cream to go with the cake, and I can guarantee you a happy family life (at least for a year, then… repeat the cake).

Grace from “A Southern Grace”, with whom I share my love to spicy food and cinnamon, is hosting a wonderful event this month – “Cinnamon Celebration”. Since this dessert has plenty of cinnamon it goes right there.

Makes one 9-inch round cake, very rich one (at least 16 servings) and about 1 quart of ice cream

For the cake:

The cake recipe is my adaptation of the cake I spotted in Lora Brody’s Chocolate American Stylebook, who got it from a winner of some baking contest Lora was judging.

  • 1 large dry ancho chile (1/2-oz)
  • 6 oz dry black mission figs, stems removed (about 15 large)
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract, divided
  • Scant cup (3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) water
  • 1 lb (16 oz) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 7 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar

For the ice cream:

The ice cream actually has more cinnamon-ish tint; I was shooting against a window, so it seems somewhat lighter.

  • 2 cups half- and-half (10% cream)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/8 tsp (pinch) salt
  • 1 cup whipping cream, cold

Make the cake:

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 425F. Generously butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper. Dust with flour, knocking out the excess. Wrap the exterior of the pan securely with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil to prevent leaks. Have ready a kettle of hot water and a large roasting pan lined with a dish towel.

Place the chile on a small baking sheet and put it in the preheated oven for a minute or two, until it’s softened. Don’t let it stay in too long, or it will become crisp and unusable. Remove the chile from the oven and remove the stem and seeds. Maintain the oven temperature.

Place the chile, figs, brown sugar, salt, and 1 tbsp of the vanilla in a medium saucepan and add the water. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, and cook until the figs are very soft, and water is mostly absorbed/evaporated, about 15 minutes. Puree the mixture in the food processor or blender until smooth. You should get about ¾ cup to 1 cup of the puree. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Place the chocolate and butter into a large bowl. Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a wide skillet. Turn the burner off, then set the bowl with the chocolate and butter in the hot water. Stir constantly until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. Remove from the water. Add the remaining tablespoon of the vanilla extract, 2 tsp of cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Stir a little bit of the chocolate mixture into the fig puree, then stir the chocolate-fig mixture back into the remaining chocolate-butter mixture. Set aside. You might need to rewarm the mixture gently before incorporating the whipped eggs by placing the bowl into the same skillet with hot water (the fig-chocolate mixture has to be fluid but not hot).

Place the eggs in the bowl of the stand mixer. Set the bowl in the skillet with hot water. Whisk constantly until the eggs are warm to the touch. Place the bowl onto the base of the stand mixer and whip the eggs with the wire attachment on medium-high speed until they have tripled in volume, about 8 minutes (longer, if you are using a hand-held mixer). Using a large rubber spatula, fold about one-third of the eggs into the chocolate-fig mixture. When the eggs are just incorporated, fold in the rest of the whipped eggs. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the springform pan into the roasting pan. Put the roasting pan onto the oven rack, and carefully fill the roasting pan with very hot water, so the water comes about halfway up the sides of the springform. Bake the cake for 15 minutes, then cover loosely with foil (the foil shouldn’t touch the top of the cake) and bake for another 10 minutes. At this point the cake will appear quite loose, only about 1-inch border near the side of the pan will look set. Remove the cake from the water bath, remove the foil, and place the cake pan on a wire rack to cool completely. When the cake is cool, cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, better – overnight.

To unmold the cake, wipe the outside of the springform pan with a hot towel. Remove the sides, invert the cake onto a plate, and remove the pan base and the parchment paper (its not necessary to invert the cake again).

Mix the remaining teaspoon of the cinnamon with the tablespoon of the granulated sugar and sift over the top of the cake. Use your fingers to rub it smoothly over the top of the top of the cake. Serve the cake at room temperature with the cinnamon ice cream or whipped cream (if you wish). Slice it with a hot dry knife. Store the cake in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 week.

Make the ice cream:

Prepare an ice bath.

In a large heavy saucepan, combine the half-and-half, ¼ cup of the sugar, cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean (first, split it lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the pot), and ground cinnamon. Heat over medium heat to a boiling point. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 30 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, remaining ¼ cup of the sugar, and the salt to combine well. Very gradually, in a thin stream, whisk in the hot half-and-half. Return the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan. Cook the custard over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the custard coats the back of the spoon. Quickly strain the custard into a large bowl set over the ice water. Add the whipping cream and whisk to incorporate. Cool, whisking often. Chill, covered, in the fridge for at least 4 hours, better – overnight.

Right before processing, whisk the custard energetically to aerate the mixture. Freeze in the ice cream maker. Transfer to containers, cover, and freeze to firm up.

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41 Responses to “Some Like It Hot: Fig and Chile Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Ice Cream”

  1. I sure would love that fantastic cake! What an awesome flavor combo! A delightful dessert. Stunning photography…



  2. Gorgeous cake and ice cream! Love the sounds of the two combined and I love that Dagoba chocolate too.

  3. Wooooah YUMMY! I have never been a fan of figs, but there is no way I could refuse a slice of this! It does look proposal inducing! *wipes up drool on keyboard*

  4. This look really yummmy. But can i omit the chile and figs, will it affect the texture of the cake?

  5. Well past proposals, & too many years down the line Vera…but maybe this will make him happier than anything else! It’s fabulous…& the photography is stunning! Dagoba chocolate…no chance as usual, but can improvise somewher!

  6. This cake sounds dreamy! I love unique flavour combinations.

  7. this is so gorgeous vera! i wish i could dive in and eat my way out!

  8. Fantastic!!! I´m going to buy an ice cream maker, NOW!!!!

  9. Love it! Love it! Love it!
    Your photo is so inspiring! :)

  10. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, Vera! :) I’ve just made a chilli chocolate cake too, using Lindt chocolate.

  11. Wow what a beaty !! It must be soooo good !!

  12. Wow. I have never seen such an elegant flourless chocolate cake. The photos are stunning!

  13. The cake looks goegeous!! Looks so chocolatey, yum yum. I’ve yet to try spicy chocolate…

  14. Sounds and looks incredible, Vera. I will have to try this.

  15. Very impressive presentation and I love the combination of spicy and chocolate. It reminds me of a Vosges chocolate bar I enjoyed recently. Thanks for sharing your creativity and expertise!

  16. I don’t even know what to say. Your photos are exquisite and that cakes just has to be delicious given what is in there.

  17. This cake looks so moist and delicious! I love the spice that you’ve added throughout the cake and ice cream…I think it makes chocolate taste that much better!

  18. Absolutely -stunning- cake. The presentation is amazing, but even if it were completely unadorned, I think it would look to-die for!

  19. I am loving the cake. It looks sinful and decadent! I might’ve just found the chocolate dessert recipe I was looking for tomorrow :-)

  20. What an amazing cake!! The perfect chocolate fix!

  21. What flavors! Wow, and it’s flourless, I love how moist it looks.

  22. That cake does look like a mousse cake to me!! It’s so moist and dense..ohh I bet it’s the best!! And with the spices in there…oh yum!! Thanks for the tip for marital bliss. I’ll make the cake and see if J is compelled to ask for my hand in marriage after having a slice…hehe.

  23. Rosa, thank you very much!

    Helen, thank you so much!

    Apparentlyjessy, thank you! I’m glad you are changing your opinion about figs :) They are, actually, not so obvious here.

    Jacelyn, thank you! It’s your call, sure you can omit the chiles if you want (it will change the flavor not the texture). You can also replace the figs with dates (Medjool are great) without significant difference in texture.

    Deeba, thank you very much :) I didn’t use the Dagoba here, just good quality bittersweet chocolate. The Dagoba chocolate that I mentioned has a similar flavor to this cake.

    May, thank you! It’s quite dreamy, that’s true :)

    Meeta, thank you! I would be happy to share; I obviously eat too much myself:)

    Ana, thank you! Ice cream maker is a useful device :)

    Marija, thank you very much!

    Y, thank you very much! Now I’m curious about your cake :)

    Natalia, thank you! It is good :)

    Astrid, thank you very much!

    Pigpigscorner, thank you! Spicy chocolate is an amazing thing!

    Eileen, thank you! Sure I’ll be very happy if you give it a try :)

    Dragana, thank you very much! And you are very welcome!

    Dana, thank you very much! The cake is delicious, you have my word :)

    Elyse, thank you very much!

    Hannah, thank you! I don’t know about the look, but it would still taste to die for :)

    Sneh, thank you :)

    Maria, thank you! I found it quite perfect :)

    Sophie, thank you!

    Christy, thank you so much! It is the mousse-like. I’m sure he will :)

  24. first you go and tease with the fabulous combination of spicy chiles and rich chocolate–that was enticing enough! but to top it all off with luscious cinnamon ice cream? vera, you are a goddess and i thank you for your creativity. :)

  25. This is my first time to your blog, it is really lovely and I will be back!

  26. Wow. An absolutely stunning chocolate cake! I love the Xocolatl bar as well…the spice and chocolate are the best combination. Such gorgeous photos!!

  27. This looks fabulous!!! Spiced-up chocolate is my favorite — I love those Green & Blacks Mayan spice bars. YUM!

  28. I just love Valentines day. All the foodies come out with the most amazing dishes. I just love this cake, you can see the richness in your photos. love it!

  29. The Dagoba Xocolatl bar is my FAVORITE! I’m saving this recipe. It sounds Amazing!

  30. You are so creative Vera! This is out of this world!

  31. This cake is fantastic !

  32. I like it hot too! And I like it decorated like that too! So gorgeous and the fisrt picture is stunning!

  33. The cake looks amazing.. Dense and moist. I’ve never seen a cake recipe that uses ancho!

  34. OMG – that looks soooooooooooo good. Chilli and chocolate is a great combination (I love Max Brenner’s chilli hot chocolate)and I love figs too – although black mission figs are new to me.

  35. Wow, love the picture (and the cake that’s in it)!

  36. Fabulous cake and great photos.

  37. Thank you very much, everybody, for the kind comments!

  38. What gorgeous photos! Your cake sounds wonderfully spicy and delicious.

  39. We have an abundance of fresh figs (the big Brown Turkey kind). Can i substitute the dried figs for fresh with no trouble?

  40. Catherine, I would give it a try. Cook them longer to reduce to the required amount and/or decrease the water.

  41. OK. I think this is one of the best things I’ve ever made. I didn’t make the ice cream, I bought cinnamon and hazelnut gelato and with 1 oz scoops of each this was an amazing Valentine dessert.

    I did increase the cinnamon by 1 tsp because I couldn’t taste it in the batter. Next time I might increase the cayanne. It’s tasty, but not actually hot. Or maybe I’ll leave a few of those pepper seeds in when I boil the paste ingredients.

    Lastly, I was able to cut some of the bowl transfering around by mixing the chocolate into the figs by adding it to the food processor. Start time to in the oven, this was only 1 hour which isn’t bad considering how many steps and bowls are involved.

    Thanks for sharing this!

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