Vegetarian food blog featuring delicious and nutritious whole food recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Chilli Chocolate Cake with Apricot Curd Buttercream

Chilli Chocolate Cake

Elegant, fragrant and delicious, this chilli chocolate cake is filled with apricot buttercream and topped by a glossy chocolate ganache. It’s a perfect cake for an adult’s birthday party. The hint of chilli might be too much for the kids.

When Chele announced that this month we were to make something suitable for the We Should Cocoa first birthday party, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I’d been eyeing up Pam Corbin’s Chocolate Cake recipe since I first acquired her excellent book Cakes (no 8 in the River Cottage Handbook series). I was intrigued by her use of drinking chocolate powder in the recipe rather than cocoa.

Steenbergs Chilli Drinking Chocolate

A few weeks ago, an unexpected parcel arrived in the post. Childlike I know, but I still get very excited by parcels, especially unexpected ones. Having reviewed these drinking chocolates back in June, Steenbergs thought I might like to try a tin of their chilli version. And a tin with a label on it too. Last time, they were still waiting for the labels to be printed, so I received two unlabelled tins – which was fine by me as I can now use them for other purposes.

Steenbergs Chilli Drinking Chocolate

Of the three drinking chocolate varieties, this was my favourite. It has a real kick to it and I love the warmth it leaves behind in mouth, throat and stomach. It’s not quite as sweet as the others either, which gave it the thumbs up from me. I’d happily sip on this all winter long. But a word of warning, this one is not for the faint hearted; CT thought it was like a hot iron fist concealed within an unctuous velvet glove.

I reckoned that this drinking chocolate would make rather a good cake. A mild chilli effect with just a trace of warmth was what I was after. Luckily a friend came around for tea before I’d greedily finished drinking it as hot chocolate. I duly made a chilli chocolate cake and it worked just as I’d hoped.

Chilli Chocolate Cake

Apart from using the chilli drinking chocolate, I followed the recipe pretty much as written for the actual cake. But the filling and topping I changed. Amazingly, I still had some apricot curd in the fridge, but it really did need using up and I thought this would provide a nice contrast to the chocolate.

For the top, I was inspired by a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe from the Guardian that the very same friend had given me a few weeks earlier. It was for a wicked looking chocolate hazelnut cake that I will have to make one day. I was, however, completely intrigued by the glossy ganache topping. It’s not something I’ve come across before. So I thought I’d make something similar to crown my chilli chocolate cake.

Chilli Chocolate Cake with Apricot Buttercream Filling and a Chocolate Ganache Topping.

This was a wonderfully moist cake, perfectly cooked and risen. It was also surprisingly fragrant courtesy of the cardamom sugar. I’m guessing that as I’d been away for a while the cardamom pods in the sugar had time to do their work without being interrupted by me. The apricot filling provided a nice contrast to the chocolate.

I was really pleased with the glossy chocolate top. For it set firmly and dribbled elegantly down the sides without gushing all over the plate. It tasted good too, a nice chocolate hit to a cake which wasn’t particularly chocolatey. The chilli worked just as I hoped it would and was a hint rather than an assault. It added a depth to the flavour and left a very faint tingle in the mouth and throat. All in all a worthy offering for our first birthday party.

Can I Use Something Other Than Drinking Chocolate?

If you really want to, you could omit the chilli and use ordinary drinking chocolate instead. Alternatively use plain drinking chocolate and add ¼ to ½ tsp cayenne pepper. If, however, you don’t have any drinking chocolate, you can substitute it with cocoa, although this will give a more chocolatey flavour to the cake. This could well be a good thing.

Other Chilli Chocolate Recipes You Might Like

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Chilli Chocolate Cake. PIN IT.

Chilli Chocolate Cake with Apricot Curd Buttercream and a Glossy Chocolate Top.

Chilli Chocolate Cake – The Recipe

Chilli Chocolate Cake
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5 from 1 vote

Chilli Chocolate Cake with Apricot Buttercream & Glossy Chocolate Topping

Elegant, fragrant and delicious, this cake is perfect for an adult's birthday party or other celebration. The hint of chilli might be too much for the kids.
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Afternoon Tea, Dessert
Cuisine: British
Keyword: almonds, birthday cake, cake, chillies, chocolate, fruit curd
Servings: 10 slices
Calories: 541kcal


  • 50 ml hot water
  • 25 g chilli drinking chocolate
  • 25 g cocoa powder
  • 175 g unsalted butter
  • 100 g golden caster sugar (I used cardamom sugar)
  • 100 g light brown muscavado sugar
  • a pinch of fine Himalayan pink rock salt or sea salt
  • 200 g flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 75 g fat free Greek yoghurt
  • 75 ml milk
  • 100 g ground almonds

Apricot Curd Buttercream

  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 3 heaped tbsp apricot curd (or fruit curd of your choice)

Glossy Chocolate Topping

  • 50 g golden caster sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
  • 50 ml water
  • 100 g dark chocolate (I used 85%)
  • 10 g unsalted butter


  • Pour the hot water over the drinking chocolate and cocoa and stir until smooth.
  • Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the cocoa mixture and salt.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing in a tbsp of flour after each one to prevent curdling.
  • Sieve in the remaining flour, baking powder and bicarb of soda and stir until just mixed.
  • Add the yoghurt and milk and mix gently in.
  • Fold in the ground almonds.
  • Spoon into two 22 cm round silicone cake moulds or lined tins and bake at 180℃ (350℉, Gas 4) for 35 mins or until well risen and firm to the touch.
  • Leave to cool for ten minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Apricot Curd Buttercream

  • Cream the butter and icing sugar together until soft, then beat in the apricot curd.
  • Spread over one cooled sponge, then sandwich with the other.

Glossy Chocolate Topping

  • Place the sugar and water in a small pan and warm gently until the sugar has dissolved. Boil for 3 minutes, then take off the heat and cool to warm rather than hot.
  • Break 80g of the chocolate into pieces and add to the pan along with the butter. Leave for a couple of minutes to melt, then stir until smooth.
  • Allow to cool a little, then pour over the cake.
  • Grate the remaining 20g of chocolate and scatter over the top - optional.


If you really want to, you could omit the chilli and use ordinary drinking chocolate. Alternatively use plain drinking chocolate and add ¼ to ½ tsp cayenne pepper.
Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per pancake. They're approximate and will depend on exact ingredients used. Sticky blood orange not included.


Calories: 541kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 171mg | Potassium: 194mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 40g | Vitamin A: 694IU | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 3mg


  1. manu

    22nd September 2011 at 6:58 am

    Hi, that’s amazing!! Very yummy!! Have a nice day

  2. Kath

    22nd September 2011 at 7:10 am

    It does look very good. I like the idea of mixing the chilli chocolate with the cardamom sugar (could we call it a curry cake?) and then the ganache and the apricot curd. Fantastic combinations. I am drooling (again!).

  3. Nelly

    22nd September 2011 at 8:11 am

    Wow! Looks and sounds amazing, I love the combination of chilli and chocolate.

    Although curse you as I am going to be craving some chilli chocolate hot chocolate all day now! 🙂

  4. Susan's blog

    22nd September 2011 at 8:15 am

    Crikey that looks so good, could murder a slice…Happy 1st Birthday to you. x

  5. Rhizowen

    22nd September 2011 at 8:19 am

    A delicious cake for an excellent project.
    Happy Birthday We Should Cocoa

  6. Suelle

    22nd September 2011 at 12:20 pm

    This looks perfect!troneel We love chilli in chocolate cakes, and I’ve made a note of the topping too, as it looks very useful!

  7. MissCakeBaker

    22nd September 2011 at 12:55 pm

    It looks a perfect celebratory cake! I’m still convinced by the choc/chilli combo but this cake may do just that!

  8. thebotanicalbaker

    22nd September 2011 at 2:06 pm

    This looks amaaaaazing ! Thank you for sharing x

  9. At Anna's kitchen table

    22nd September 2011 at 2:20 pm

    That looks sooo very good!!

  10. Karen S Booth

    22nd September 2011 at 2:31 pm

    That is a PERFECT cake and the slice is beautifully photographed too! Chilli and Chocolate are favourite combos for me.

  11. Angie's Recipes

    22nd September 2011 at 6:17 pm

    What a beautiful and decadent chocolate cake!

  12. Janice

    22nd September 2011 at 6:59 pm

    What a lovely BIG chocolate cake. Excellent rise and glossy icing, this is going to be a very good party!

  13. Phil in the Kitchen

    22nd September 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Love the sound of that flavour combination. Definitely the cake for a celebration.

  14. cityhippyfarmgirl

    23rd September 2011 at 3:13 am

    Perrrrfection Choclette. Couldn’t look better!

  15. Katie

    23rd September 2011 at 5:33 am

    That looks so good! Love the idea of adding just a touch of chilli and the glaze looks gorgeous. Great idea to use the apricot curs, chocolaty, sweet, spices and fruity all in one!

  16. Lucie

    23rd September 2011 at 5:27 pm

    This looks wonderfully good Choclette! Hope you’re well. Lucie x

  17. Gloria

    23rd September 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Look yumm!!! gloria

  18. Choclette

    24th September 2011 at 6:27 am

    Manu – thank you.

    Kath – ha ha, but absolutely NOT a curry cake. Although bringing some curry along to the party might be an idea.

    Nelly – I do my best 😉

    Susan – would rather you ate it than murder it, but if that’s what you prefer …..!

    Rhizowen – glad you approve.

    Suelle – chilli and chocolate are a great classic pairing. The topping is really good and easy to do. I’ll be using it again.

    MCB – sometimes odd combinations just work and this is one of them.

    Botanical Baker – thank you.

    Anna – ah, thank you.

    Karen – you’re certainly a girl after my own heart when it comes to flavour combinations. And thank you for saying nice things for my inept photography. The angle of the slice is very strange!

    Angie – if you can’t be decedent with chocolate, what’s the point 😉

    Janice – thank you. I think it’s going to be an excellent party – can’t wait!

    Phil – like yours this is possibly one for the adults rather than the the one year olds.

    CityHippy – yeah 🙂

    Katie – good point, hadn’t thought of it as an all round cake.

    Lucie – thank you, nice to hear from you.

    Gloria – thank you.

  19. Chele

    24th September 2011 at 10:21 am

    Oh my gosh! Defo a cake for the grown ups me thinks ;0)
    Love the idea of the drinking chocolate and that icing looks just perfect.

  20. Johanna GGG

    24th September 2011 at 12:20 pm

    looks just like the sort of birthday cake I would have hankered after as a child – my mum;s chocolate cakes were always so pale

  21. C

    24th September 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Wow, that looks like such a delicious cake – so moist and chocolatey and gorgeous….

    I love the elegance of the icing dripping down the edges too – you’ve got it perfectly (wish I could do that!!!)

  22. Working london mummy

    24th September 2011 at 9:16 pm

    What a lovely cake, I love chilli chocolate.

  23. Baking Addict

    24th September 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Definitely a very worthy entry indeed. I’d like a large slice please 🙂

  24. Choclette

    25th September 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Chele – thanks, I’ll see if I can save you a slice 😉

    Johanna – I don’t think I ever got the sort of birthday cake I wanted either – mine were always a bit too wholesome!

    C – ha ha, I think this was my first case of perfect drips!

    WLM – thank you. Always good to know I’m not in a tiny minority of one 😉

    Baking Addict – Thank you. I’ll try and save you a slice 🙂

  25. Brownieville Girl

    25th September 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Choclette – this is my idea of the perfect cake – I so wish I could have a huge slice!!!!

  26. thelittleloaf

    25th September 2011 at 3:56 pm

    This looks absolutely divine! I made chocolate cake with cardamom recently and it’s so good…can imagine the apricot really complements those flavours too. Hugh F-W recipes always come out wonderfully, but I love how you’ve made this your own.

  27. Cakefairyblog

    25th September 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I have been thinking about making a chocolate chilli cake for a while now and this looks yum!

  28. Choclette

    26th September 2011 at 5:28 pm

    BVG – I’ll try and save you a slice too!

    Little Loaf – thank you. Cardamom and chocolate make a fabulous pairing – I bet your cake was delicious.

    Cake Fairy – love chilli and chocolate – the oldest combination of all.

  29. Nic

    5th October 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Now that’s my kind of cake….

  30. Choclette

    5th October 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Nic – Glad you’re another chilli fan.

  31. Maya Russell

    14th December 2013 at 7:19 am

    I have not tried chilli chocolate yet and wouldn’t dare do a cake without trying it first. I’ll have to get a sample today as I’m off shopping in town.

  32. lorraine williamson

    7th August 2015 at 4:49 pm

    when they say eye candy it definitely describes this cake can’t wait to make it thanks for sharing pinned and yummed

    • Choclette

      8th August 2015 at 9:30 am

      Thanks Lorraine. With all the cakes I’ve made, in terms of looks, this is probably my favourite. It tasted rather good too.

  33. Janice Pattie

    9th March 2020 at 12:35 pm

    That cake looks divine! I love the idea of an apricot curd filling and chilli is so good with chocolate – I’m totally drooling here!

    • Choclette

      11th March 2020 at 9:14 am

      That apricot curd is so very good. I really need to make some more when apricot season is back.


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