Recipe by Thomasina Miers for the dark chocolate chilli cake and the pineapple tarte tatin | Mexican food and drink

VSchocolate and vanilla – both from Mexico, both delicious. One is captivating, fleeting in nature, the other bold, assertive and multifaceted with its many flavor profiles. I find it wonderful that these two ingredients are among the most coveted in the world. Buy a bottle of good tequila and marvel at how it complements the chocolate in my chocolate melt and ancho cake. Next, a recipe reminiscent of the sweetest Mexican pineapple I’ve tasted, here cooked in a tarte tatin. For foodies, this is an exuberant adventure into a world of Mexican-inspired treats.

Ancho cake with melted dark chocolate (photo above)

This wacky, gooey chocolate cake was inspired by a pudding I tried in Mexico City, infused with the sweet notes of ancho pepper. The double-bake method is St. John’s restaurant method, recently resurrected by wonderful pastry chef Ravneet Gill – it’s foolproof and guarantees a fluffy melted core.

Preparation 15 mins
To cook 1 hour
Serves 8–10

240g Butter without saltplus extra for greasing
7 eggsseparate
260g roulette sugar
blanched hazelnuts
dark Chocolate
1 ancho pepper
discarded stem and seeds, or 10g ancho flakes, soaked in boiling water
2 tablespoons tequila blanco or reposado
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
A big pinch of salt

Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan)/375F/Gas 5 and grease a 23cm springform pan with butter and line with parchment paper.

Put the egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer with the sugar and beat for a few minutes, until the yolks have tripled in volume. Empty the nuts onto a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for five to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Set a timer – there’s nothing more irritating than burning nuts!

Meanwhile, put the chocolate and butter in a bain-marie over low heat. Drain the chili, crush it into a paste with a pestle and mortar or carving knife, and add it to the chocolate along with the tequila and vanilla. Stir a few times until melted – about five to 10 minutes. If the chocolate cracks, don’t worry: it will come back when you add the eggs.

In a small mill, mix the nuts with the cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt and set aside. Beat the egg whites with an electric whisk until frothy. Gradually pour the melted chocolate into the yolks, using an immersion blender to mix well. Incorporate the walnuts, then the egg whites, in three stages.

Pour half of the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed up and a metal skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Rest for 10 minutes. At this point, you can keep the cake overnight and finish baking the next day, or let it cool for an hour and continue.

Turn oven to 210C (190C fan)/425F/Gas 7. Pour the rest of the mixture over the cake and smooth with a spatula, leaving a border around the edges. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until a light crust forms on top.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then return. It lasts up to three days at room temperature or in the refrigerator, where the top becomes frothy.

Pineapple tart tatin with rum cream

Pineapple tart tatin with rum cream from Thomasina Miers. Photography: Tara Fisher/Hodder & Stoughton. Food Stylist: Kitty Coles. Accessories designer: Louie Waller.

A deep, rich caramel envelops the pineapple in this unapologetic tarte tatin. There’s layer upon layer of exotic spice notes of cinnamon and anise, with lime zest adding fresh, floral citrus. Drizzled rum cream quickly follows for a heady onslaught. It’s not a pudding to mess up – serve it at the end of a big lunch and then sink into your chair with a shot glass of mezcal.

Preparation 15 mins
To cook 45 minutes
Serves 8–10

325g block of pre-rolled puff pastry
Plain flourto dust off
1 pineapple (about 600g)
200g roulette sugar
Butter without salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
A pinch of salt
The zest of 1 limeto serve

For the rum cream
double cream
4 tablespoons of frosting
2–3 tablespoons of rum

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/Gas 6. Roll out the dough to 3mm thick, then cut to the size of your ovenproof pan (about 24cm). Place on a floured plate and return to the refrigerator.

Peel the pineapple, cut it in half or in quarters and remove the core. Cut into slices 1 cm thick.

Then prepare the caramel. Pour the caster sugar into a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook for six to nine minutes, shaking the pan occasionally (but not stirring) until the sugar has melted and turns amber. Add the pineapple, butter, vanilla, spices and salt, and simmer for six to eight minutes, basting and turning each slice in the sauce every few minutes. The sugar may clump but it will melt again.

Remove from the heat and arrange the pineapple slices so that they overlap and evenly cover the bottom of the pan. Cover with the puff pastry, tucking it in at the edges and prick the top with a fork. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and crispy.

While the pie is baking, transfer the cream, sugar and rum to a large bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Let the pie cool for five minutes, then invert it onto a serving platter and sprinkle with lime zest. Serve with the rum cream.

Recipes from Meat-free Mexican: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes by Thomasina Miers, published by Hodder & Stoughton May 5 at £25; photograph by Tara Fisher. To order a copy for £21.75, go to

Michael M. Tomlin