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Take Your Cupcakes Up A Spicy Notch With Mexican Hot Chocolate Frosting

Cup of Mexican hot chocolate
Cup of Mexican hot chocolate - Bhofack2/Getty Images

Cupcakes are a classic sweet treat; they're the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion or to round out a savory meal. Most of the time, they're loaded with sugary elements like chocolate, frosting, or sprinkles -- but sweet and spicy offer great contrast, and if you've never added a hint of spice to your perfectly baked cupcakes, you might want to start. Rather than using typical cream cheese frosting or the store-bought stuff, make your own Mexican hot chocolate frosting; it features the spicy addition of chili powder and the bold flavor of cinnamon, which combine to add just the right kick to your sweet, delicate cupcakes.

Plus, adding extra flavors exclusively in the frosting is a great way to introduce these contrasting ingredients without sending the heat level overboard. And for guests who don't like spicy food, the small amount of peppery punch in the frosting is ideal because it's not all throughout the cupcake.

Read more: 17 Mistakes To Avoid When Baking Cupcakes

Mexican Hot Chocolate Frosting Is A Must-Try

Assorted chocolate cupcakes
Assorted chocolate cupcakes - Mtreasure/Getty Images

Sweet and spicy is a tale as old as time; it's not unusual to see the two tastes paired together. Mexican hot chocolate, which adds that fiery element not typically found in U.S. versions of the drink, allegedly dates back thousands of years. The Aztecs and Mayans were known to spice up their drinking chocolate, and it's been a staple recipe in Mexico ever since. The story goes that sugar wasn't readily available in Mexico until Spanish settlers introduced the crop. Instead, spices like vanilla and ingredients like chiles and honey were traditionally favored by indigenous cooks. It wasn't until the mid-1500s that cinnamon -- which first came to the country from Sri Lanka via Spanish ships -- was incorporated into all kinds of Mexican recipes, including hot chocolate.

A Mexican hot chocolate frosting recipe essentially takes standard chocolate frosting and enhances it with these vibrant spices. It would work well on either vanilla or chocolate cupcakes. If you're interested in trying your own, you can make it up to a week in advance and store it in the refrigerator, or it will last about a month in the freezer.

Why Do Chiles Pair So Well With Chocolate?

Cup of Mexican hot chocolate
Cup of Mexican hot chocolate - Tatyana Berkovich/Shutterstock

It seems this combination isn't so unusual, but why do chocolate and chili peppers blend so well together? It all has to do with the way our taste buds process flavors. Food scientist Brittany Towers told Business Insider that sugar can help "tame" the heat from spicy foods in the same way that fat can. "With sweet and spicy, our body processes spice through receptors in our taste buds, and the capsaicin in peppers binds to our taste buds," she noted, adding, "This emits a sensation of warming and burning ... The sweetness is there to balance out this spicy flavor."

If you plan to try out the Mexican hot chocolate frosting on your next batch of cupcakes, make sure to start small. You can always add spice, but you can't take it away -- so taste the frosting frequently and add more chile heat and cinnamon warmth as needed.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.