Chocolat Movie & Mayan Chocolate Chili Cupcakes

As Fall is upon us, we turn towards embracing the crisp coolness in the air and look forward to the magic of the Autumn Equinox, which only excites us for the revelries of winter.  A film that permeates the essence of this milieu is Chocolat.  It’s a 2000 British-American romantic comedy-drama film based on the novel of the same name by Joanne Harris.  Chocolat tells the story of a young mother, played by Juliette Binoche, who arrives at the fictional, repressed French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes with her six-year-old daughter and opens La Chocolaterie Maya, a small chocolatery.

The star studded cast and briliantly landscaped film made the film itself magical.  It was nominated for best film at the Academy Awards that year.  It was also nominated for eight BAFTAs and four Golden Globes. Judi Dench won a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance in the film.

The mysterious Vianne and her child arrive in the tranquil French town in the winter of 1959.  She and her spirited daughter have a kind of impact that is somewhat magical on the community stubbornly rooted in tradition. Her unusual chocolate shop sits across the square from the church and her ability to perceive her customers’ desires and satisfy them with just the right confection, coaxes the villagers to abandon themselves to temptation — just as Lent begins.

As you can imagine, with a movie about a chocolatier, there are so many delectable treats to choose from.  However, the scene where Vianne makes a hot chocolate that melts Judi Dench’s heart stands out as it has a kick to it and the Mayan chocolate would do the same with chili in it.  Hence the name of the chocolaterie “Maya”.    To combine the spirit of that hot chocolate and all the other wonderful treats that the shop offers, I came up with Mayan Chocolate Chili Cupcakes.  These cupcakes do have heat, so be careful.

Mayan Chocolate Chili Cupcakes



1 (18.25 ounce) box devil's food chocolate cake mix

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ancho chile pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/4 cups water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs


2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup milk

2 tsp. cinnamon

5 cups powdered sugar (more or less to achieve desired consistency)

1 tsp ancho chile pepper

24 small dried red chiles


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners.
  2. Empty the boxed cake mix into a mixing bowl, and whisk in 1 1/2 teaspoon of ground ancho chile and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat in the water, vegetable oil, and eggs; beat for 2 minutes.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake cups, filling them 2/3 full.
  5. Bake 18 to 22 minutes in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  6. Remove and cool completely before frosting.
  7. To Make Frosting:
  8. Cream butter in an electric mixer on medium-speed until smooth and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  9. Add cocoa powder and cinnamon and mix on low-speed until combined.
  10. Gradually add in the milk and powdered sugar, alternately, until combined. Then beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, another 3-5 minutes. (Add in more powdered sugar if consistency is too thin.)
  11. Pipe frosting on to cupcakes generously.
  12. Lightly sprinkle ancho chili pepper on cupcakes.
  13. Poke a small dried chile, stem-side up, into the frosting as a garnish for each cupcake.

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