Chocolate Habañero Cake with Chocolate Avocado Buttercream

Try this Chocolate Habañero Cake with Chocolate Avocado Buttercream recipe from the 'Hartwood' cookbook
Chocolate Habañero Cake with Chocolate Avocado Buttercream

Gentl & Hyers

In Mexico, the pairing of chocolate and chile goes back hundreds of years. No news there. But the avocado buttercream is a new innovation. The avocado gives the frosting a really interesting vegetal note, and probably some nutritional value, yet it’s so rich it’s like throwing in an extra stick of butter. Chill the frosted cake before serving to allow the buttercream to set. At Hartwood, we bake the cake in a cast-iron skillet, but this recipe is for cake pans.

This cake is quite spicy — you may want to use less chile powder the first time you make it. 

Excerpted from Hartwood by Eric Werner and Mya Henry (Artisan Books).


For the cake:

  • 2  Cups  all-purpose flour
  • 2  Cups  sugar
  • 3/4  Cups  unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2  Teaspoons  baking powder
  • 1 1/2  Teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1  Teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1  Tablespoon  finely ground coffee
  • 1  Tablespoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/2  Teaspoon  ground allspice
  • 1/2  Teaspoon  ancho chile powder, or to taste
  • 1/2  Teaspoon  chipotle chile powder, or to taste
  • 1/4  Teaspoon  habañero powder, or to taste
  • 1 1/4  Cup  whole milk
  • 1/4  Cup  vegetable oil
  • large eggs
  • 2  Teaspoons  vanilla extract

For the buttercream:

  • 6  Ounces  unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2  Pound  unsalted butter, cubed, softened
  • ripe Hass avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into chunks
  • 1  Teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1  Cup  confectioners’ sugar, sifted


For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms and sides with parchment paper and grease the parchment. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, coffee, cinnamon, allspice, and chile powders together in a medium bowl.

Whisk together the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Fold in the flour mixture, mixing until smooth.

Pour the batter into the cake pans and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick or tester inserted in the center of a layer comes out clean. Set on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out of the pans onto racks, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely.

For the buttercream:

Melt the chocolate slowly in the top of a double boiler set over medium-low heat. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

With a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter in a medium bowl until fluffy. Beat in the avocado and vanilla. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar, beating until fully combined. Add the cooled chocolate, mixing until fully incorporated.

Put one cake layer on a serving plate and frost the top. Top with second layer and frost the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chocolate Shopping Tip

There are so many varieties of chocolate on the shelves today it can be overwhelming to pick one – as a general rule of thumb, the fewer the ingredients, the better the chocolate.

Chocolate Cooking Tip

When melting chocolate, use a double boiler and stir occasionally to avoid scorching chocolate at the bottom of the bowl.

Chocolate Wine Pairing

Sweet chenin blanc, muscat, or amontillado sherry with nut-based desserts; sauternes or sweet German wines with pound cake, cheesecake, and other mildly sweet desserts; sweet chenin blanc or muscat or Alsatian vendange tardive (late harvest) wines with sweeter desserts; sweet chenin blanc or muscat or Alsatian vendange tardive (late harvest) wines, port, madeira, late-harvest zinfandel, or cabernet sauvignon or cabernet franc with chocolate desserts.