Mexican Chocolate Cake for Cinco de Mayo


Cinco de Mayo just got a whole lot sweeter with this decadent spiced chocolate cake filled with gooey dulce de leche and spicy chocolate ganache. When I say spicy, this cake has a touch of heat to it with flavors such a cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. This seriously may be my new favorite cake and it’s actually made with boxed cake mix! Yeah, we are about to get real here people! And it’s a whole bunch of humbling, slightly humiliating reality that even someone culinary trained can seriously “F” things up in major ways, haha! 


End your Cinco de Mayo on a sweet note with this decadent Mexican Chocolate Cake layered with spicy chocolate ganache and dulce de leche. Recipe at

Let me give you the back story. I set out to create a new chocolate cake recipe (from scratch of course) that I could use for this cake. I spent some decent time looking through recipes, picked out a few to try and manipulate them for what I was doing. Being the stubborn person I was, I couldn’t just simply use my go-to chocolate cake recipe. No, I wanted to find a new one! A more decadent one to really amp up the “Mexican” spices.

Ya’ll, 4 times… 4 freaking times I tried to get it right!!! This may not sound like a lot, but having to heading back to the store each time to buy more ingredients (which aren’t cheap,) 4 times is a lot! Not to mention that I was already behind on this cake post due to moving into our new apartment (which by the way I mainly did myself, because Adam was in NYC for work.) I will say loading and unloading a home on your own is seriously a great workout! My dad and brother did come to the rescue on some of the larger items, so huge thank you to them!!!


Needless to say, the multiple failed attempts to make the cake from scratch (they all kept falling in the center) and being behind forced me into one of three choices:

1 – give up entirely (I was to the point of just ending blogging altogether because who wants to follow a so-called trained chef if they can’t even get a cake right, haha!

2 – spend every last dime I own to make this chocolate cake work for me and develop the perfect recipe.

3 – stop making things so dang complicated on myself, admit that being a pastry chef was never really my calling, and surrender to the ease of a good old box cake mix! I’m not perfect, so why should my cake be, right?


Option three was the easy win at this point in the process. So, even though it’s not a made-from-scratch cake and Cinco de Mayo is this Saturday, so I totally gave you ample time to make this cake (clearly, I’m joking on that one,) the flavors are divine! I’m still on the fence about how I decorated it. I envisioned doing these awesome cactus on the top with crumbled graham crackers for dirt with vibrant flowers around the cactus. Definitely a lot more decorative piping. Clearly none of those things happened, so keeping it simple was the end result… plus I couldn’t find the right cactus to save my life, so flowers and succulents it is! We will try again next year!

Happy almost Cinco de Mayo everyone!!! And if you make this cake, I want to hear all about it and how you decorated it! 




Mexican Chocolate Cake for Cinco de Mayo
Serves 8
End your Cinco de Mayo on a sweet note with this decadent Mexican Chocolate Cake layered with spicy chocolate ganache and dulce de leche.
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Mexican chocolate cake layers (makes four - 6 in cake layers)
  1. 1 package chocolate cake mix (one that requires eggs, oil, and water)
  2. Eggs (refer to cake mix package for amount)
  3. Vegetable oil (refer to cake mix package for amount)
  4. Whole milk
  5. ½ teaspoon cayenne
  6. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  7. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Spiced chocolate ganache filling
  1. ½ cup heavy cream
  2. ⅛ cup light corn syrup
  3. ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  4. ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  5. 8 oz.semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  6. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Buttercream frosting
  1. 1 lb butter, at cool room temperature
  2. 2 lbs confectioners' sugar, sifted
  3. 1/2 tsp salt
  4. 2 tsp almond extract
  5. 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  6. 1 - 13.4 oz can Dulce de Leche
  7. 6” cardboard round, covered in foil
  8. Assorted flowers, succulents and cactus
  9. Americolor Soft Gel Paste™ Color in peach, or any desired color
For Mexican chocolate cake layers
  1. Prepare four 6-inch cake pans by greasing pan, then lining bottom with parchment paper rounds or greasing and dusting the pan with cocoa powder.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Mix cake according to instructions on cake mix packaging, with one important adjustment - use whole milk instead of the required water amount. This will add extra moisture to cake. Also add in cinnamon, cayenne and nutmeg to cake mix. Stir until all combined.
  4. Scoop batter evenly into prepared pans, smoothing top with a metal spatula. Bake cakes for 15 minutes. Rotate pans in oven. Bake for another 15-18 minutes. It’s very important not to overcook the cakes. Lightly press on the top of the cake, if it springs back slightly the cakes are ready.
  5. Cool pans on a rack for 5 minutes until cool, then turn cakes out onto the rack, remove paper and cool completely. If you’re not frosting immediately, wrap cakes in plastic wrap, then foil. Freeze until ready to use. I prefer to freeze all of my cakes before frosting. It makes it easier to frost the cake
For spiced chocolate ganache filling
  1. Place chocolate in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Combine heavy cream, light corn syrup, cayenne and cinnamon in a saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes until hot but not boiling. Remove cream mixture from heat and let sit for 1 minute. Pour hot cream mixture over chocolate and allow to sit. Once chocolate looks melted, stir to incorporate. Slowly add in butter, mixing until ganache is fully combined. If using right away, place ganache over an ice bath to thicken quickly, stirring occasionally, or cover and place in fridge to chill. Bring ganache back to cool room temp before using again and stir to soften so it’s easily spreadable.
To make buttercream
  1. Cream butter until light in color (about 5 minutes.) Scrape down bowl with spatula. Add confectioner's sugar in 3 batches; mixing well with each addition. Add salt, almond extract and heavy cream. Blend on low until just combined. Add additional heavy cream until desired consistency is reached. Beat frosting for another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Separate frosting into 2 portions - 1 cup for piping and the remainder to frost the cake.
  3. If frosting cake immediately, color the 1 cup portion with a tiny amount of peach icing color, scoop into pastry bag fitted with a round #5 decorating tip. Set aside. With remaining frosting, fill up a pastry bag fitted with a 1A decorating tip. You will have leftovers. If not frosting cake immediately, cover both frostings and keep in fridge until ready to use. Re-whip frosting before using. Put into pastry bags as described above before using. Frosting can be made up to 1 week in advance.
To assemble cake
  1. Make sure both frostings are in pastry bags (peach colored frosting and uncolored buttercream.) Spiced chocolate ganache should be spreadable. Slightly warm up dulce de leche so it’s easily spreadable.
  2. Remove chocolate cake layers from freezer. Cut off rounded tops of each cake to make them flat and level. Scoop 2 tablespoons of warm dulce de leche onto the center of all but 1 cake layer (that one will be the top), spreading outward up to 1 in from cake edge. Dulce de leche should soak into cake layers. Chill cake layers for 5 minutes.
  3. Place 1 chocolate cake layer in the center of a cardboard cake round, then place on a revolving cake decorating stand. This will make transferring your cake to a cake plate much easier. Evening spread ¼ cup spiced chocolate ganache in cake center, spreading outwards up to 1 in from cake edge. Chocolate ganache should be about ¾ in thick. Add more ganache, if needed. Using your filled pastry bag, pipe a frosting ring or "dam" on the outer edge of the cake layer, filling in that 1 in edge. This will keep the filling from leaking out.
  4. Place second chocolate cake layer on top of first cake layer. Press gently and make sure both layers are even on top and sides. Repeat with spiced chocolate ganache, frosting "dam", and next cake layer until all layers are used up (the non-dulce de leche layer should be the top of the cake. Make sure all layers are even on top and sides.
  5. Using a small offset icing spatula, smooth any buttercream on sides of cake.
  6. Apply a crumb coat to entire cake. This is a thin layer of frosting that seals any loose crumbs that "dirty" your final coat of frosting. Place cake in fridge for 30 minutes to set the crumb coat.
  7. With remaining buttercream frosting, apply to entire cake. This is the fun part! Choosing how you want to sculpt your frosting. Smooth top and sides or create a pattern. The choice is up to you. Chill cake. Carefully remove cake from revolving cake decorating stand and transfer to cake plate or stand.
  8. Using peach colored icing pipe round dots along bottom of cake. Decorate frosted cake with flowers. Make sure any flowers you use are no poisonous. Serve cake.
Designs of Any Kind

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a picture #designsofanykind on Instagram! We’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!

With love from my kitchen to yours,

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a picture #designsofanykind on Instagram! We’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!

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“Mexican Chocolate Cake for Cinco de Mayo”

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