Boca Negra Picosito con Salsa Dulce de Tomatillo (Spiced Chocolate Cake with Sweet Tomatillo Sauce)

published Feb 1, 2021
Boca Negra Picosito con Salsa Dulce de Tomatillo (Spiced Chocolate Cakes with Sweet Tomatillo Sauce)

Boca Negra cake, named because once you dig in, your mouth will be covered in luxurious chocolate. The tomatillo sauce and chipotles add such incredible depth to this scrumptious dessert.

Serves8 to 12

Prep30 minutes

Cook55 minutes to 1 hour

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Credit: Brittany Conerly

Welcome to the first recipe of Weekend Baking Adventure. For each week in February, we’re going to publish a new recipe each Monday. Then, that Wednesday, our guest baker will meet you on Instagram Live at 12 p.m. EST to demo the recipe. For Week 1, we’re very excited about this gluten-free chocolate cake from Fany Gerson.

About This Recipe

I wanted to include a dessert [in my cookbook] where chocolate was the main ingredient because, well, because people love it. This recipe was previously published on Rosa’s New Mexican Table by Roberto Santibañez and is one of my proudest creations.

The tomatillo sauce may seem unusual, but trust me: You will be pleasantly surprised, and the smokiness of the chipotles gives an incredible depth to this scrumptious dessert. Boca negra cake got its name because, once you dig in, your mouth will be covered in luxurious chocolate. Be sure to use high-quality chocolate because it will make all the difference in the world. Serve it as is or with a bit of lightly sweetened whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or Natilla. Fany Gerson

Credit: Brittany Conerly

Tester’s Note

This is a very tasty cake: It’s rich, creamy, and unmolds easily from the pan (phew!). The sweet tomatillo sauce is a really unique addition to the cake — I highly recommend giving it a try. It’s like a pepper jelly without the heat.

Before you get started, here are a few tips to set you up for success.

  1. Using dried chiles: If you’re using dried chiles, I would prep them first (be sure to wear gloves!). As they soak, you can dust the cake pan, chop the chocolate, and combine the orange juice and sugar.
  2. Using canned chiles: If you can’t source dried chiles, try using canned chipotle in adobo: Simply purée a few of the chiles and then run the purée through a fine-mesh strainer for the smoothest texture.
  3. Adding the butter: The chocolate mixture cools cools down pretty quickly between melting the chocolate and adding the butter. If your mixture begins to seize, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and continue to stir until melted.
  4. Baking and unmolding: If the cake seems too tender at 55 minutes, continue baking five to 10 minutes more. When unmolding, be prepared for the cake to wobble a bit. Amelia Rampe, Studio Food Editor

Boca Negra Picosito con Salsa Dulce de Tomatillo (Spiced Chocolate Cakes with Sweet Tomatillo Sauce)

Boca Negra cake, named because once you dig in, your mouth will be covered in luxurious chocolate. The tomatillo sauce and chipotles add such incredible depth to this scrumptious dessert.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 55 minutes to 1 hour

Serves 8 to 12

Nutritional Info



  • 6

    dried chipotle chiles

  • 10 ounces

    high-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • 6 tablespoons

    freshly squeezed orange juice

  • 1 cup


  • 3/4 cup

    unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

  • 4


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons

    cornstarch or all-purpose flour

  • Pinch of salt

Tomatillo Sauce

  • 1 pound

    small fresh tomatillos

  • 1

    vanilla bean, split lengthwise

  • 8 ounces

    piloncillo (panela, or brown cane sugar)

  • 1/3 cup


  • 3/4 cup


  • 1 (3-inch) piece

    canela (cinnamon)


  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Butter the bottom and sides of eight 4-ounce ramekins or one 9-inch cake pan (not a springform pan) and dust with sugar, tapping out the excess.

  2. To make the cakes, remove the stems, seeds, and veins of the chiles and toast them flat in a hot skillet over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant, flipping them so they don’t burn. Transfer to a bowl, cover with very hot water, and let soak until softened, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid, and purée the chiles in a blender or food processor, adding a bit of the liquid as needed to form a smooth paste. Press through a fine-mesh sieve if the paste isn’t completely smooth. You will only need 1 1/2 tablespoons of the paste, but you can freeze the rest for later use.

  3. Place the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Combine the orange juice and sugar in a small pot over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Pour over the chocolate and stir until melted and combined. (I like to use a whisk, but don’t beat it, simply stir.) Add the butter, little by little, and stir until melted. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then add 1 1/2 tablespoons chipotle paste and the cornstarch or flour and salt, stirring until smooth. Pour into the prepared ramekins.

  4. Place the ramekins, evenly spaced, in a towel-lined baking dish to prevent them from sliding. Carefully pour hot water to fill three-fourths of the way up the sides. Bake until a thin, crusty layer forms on top and the cakes are set, 40 to 45 minutes. If using a cake pan it should take 50 to 55 minutes to bake. Remove the baking dish from the oven and remove the ramekins with a towel or tongs. Let cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the sauce.

  5. To make the tomatillo sauce, remove the husks from the tomatillos, rinse them under cold water, dry with a towel, and coarsely chop them. Put them in a pot, scrape the vanilla bean into the pot and add the pod, and add the piloncillo, water, sugar, and canela. Cook over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until the tomatillos are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and discard the vanilla pod and canela. Transfer to a food processor and purée to the desired consistency (completely smooth or a bit chunky). Let cool. (This can be made up to a week in advance and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. If it is too thick, add a bit of water until it is a pourable consistency.) Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

  6. To unmold the cakes, dip a small, sharp knife into hot water, dry it quickly, and run it around the edges. Dip the bottom of the ramekins or cake pan into very hot water for about 1 minute (a bit longer if using a cake pan) and unmold onto plates. Be careful because they are fragile and will be difficult to move once they are unmolded. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 40 minutes if using ramekins, 1 hour if using a cake pan.

  7. To slice the cake, dip a sharp knife into very hot water and quickly dry with a towel between each slice (this will make nice clean edges). Serve the unmolded cakes at room temperature with sauce on the side.

Recipe Notes

Alternate topping: Instead of the tomatillo sauce, you can serve the cake with confectioners’ sugar and fresh berries.

Reprinted with permission from My Sweet Mexico by Fany Gerson, copyright © 2010. Photographs by Ed Anderson. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.

Credit: Kitchn