Chile and Chocolate Cake…for those we’ve loved and lost


Occasionally I have taken a hiatus from posting to this blog but not without good reason.

The past two years have been a roller coaster.  Full of joys and sorrows.

We have warmly welcomed two new members to our family.

Chips and Salsa

But we have lost far more than our share.

My inspirational sister-in-law, Bunny  (1981-2010) and I shared a love for baking.  Her “sweets” recipes are some of the best.

My dear mother-in-law, Kathy (1947-2011) was a gracious hostess and talented cook.  Many of my favorite recipes are handed down from her.

Most recently, we lost the cyclist’s courageous brother Matt (1970-2012)*.  He helped me to cultivate an appreciation for homegrown produce (especially tomatoes) and he introduced me to the world of delicious, spicy food…including the combination of chocolate and chile.

 This is a variation on a favorite chocolate cake from Peacocks on my Porch. If you omit the cinnamon and cayenne, you have a moist, delicious, everyday chocolate cake. One you can take to parties, picnics and potlucks. The addition of the spices gives it just a little oomph. A little warming on the back of your tongue.

Try it.

You’ll like it. I know Matt would.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk (you know I never plan ahead…1 T of vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup…add milk to the 1 cup mark.  let sit 5 minutes to curdle)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup hot hot water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a 13″x9″ baking pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, sugar, soda, cinnamon and cayenne (start with 1/4 tsp cayenne…you can adjust when the batter is all combined). Add in oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Stir gently. Add hot water. Pour into pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4-6 T milk

Beat butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar gradually, add vanilla and cinnamon. Add milk and beat until you attain your desired consistency (I generally start with 4 T [1/4 cup] then add 1 T at a time).  Frost cooled cake. (This frosting is also delicious on graham crackers.)

If desired, grate a little chocolate over the top.

Store remaining cake covered in the refrigerator.  You’ll be amazed how good it is the second day.



*After being diagnosed with a rare but aggresive sarcoma, Matt had his leg amputated and within 10 months was competing in the USA paracycling Nationals. Matt placed well enough to earn a spot to race at Paracycling Worlds in Denmark in 2011. He was training this year in hopes of making the Paralympics this summer in England.

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  • By Katie 30 May 2012

    My heart has been very heavy for your family. How thankful I am that you have shared so much of who Bunny was and helped us as her extended family get to know more of the woman she had become. I love the recipes and hope that the memories are always close as you continue to bake and share.

  • By Jenny 30 May 2012

    What a gorgeous tribute to wonderful loved ones who are no longer here. Thanks so much for sharing your heart felt thoughts, and delicious recipes!

  • By Lindsey 30 May 2012

    My garden last year sucked. So I decided to forgo that activity this year. That is until I was sitting in Matt’s funeral. Heirloom tomatoes from my own backyard have never sounded more desirable. So we are trying it again, and with a better attitude because of Matt. Thanks for giving me another thing to do (bake) to remember him.

  • By Sara {Home is Where the Cookies Are} 31 May 2012

    I’m so sorry for your loss. He looks like he was a sweet and brave man. Just looking at his pictures makes me smile inside. What a wonderful role model for your children to have had. My heart goes out to your family.

  • By Cookie Sleuth 03 Jun 2012

    Nice to have you back. I hope all is improving for you and your family.

  • By cait 10 Jun 2012

    awww megan that looks delicious –matt would have definitely LOVED it. made me cry and laugh at the same time– thinking about all the beautiful spicy food he made, eating spicy zucchini bread with you all at lotaja many moons ago, and your cookie parties of course.. miss you ! love to all 8 of you (oh gosh i forgot all about the show “eight is enough” til just now! but 8 isnt really enough is it ? !!) love xox



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