Photo of Chocolate-ancho chile cake by WW

Chocolate-ancho chile cake

Total Time
2 hr 55 min
30 min
25 min
This incredibly bold and rich variation on a classic chocolate sheet cake will soon be your new favorite. Espresso enhances and deepens the flavor of the chocolate and chile powder lends lovely spicy undertones. If you want to boost the smoky notes of the chile powder, add a pinch of smoked paprika. We’ve used a stencil pattern to decorate the cake, but you can always dust the powdered sugar over the top without one if you prefer. To guarantee a moist cake, be sure you remove the cake from the oven right as the sides of cake start to pull away from pan's edges.


Cooking spray

2 spray(s)

All-purpose flour

1 cup(s)


1 cup(s), granulated

Unsweetened cocoa powder

6 Tbsp

Ancho chili powder

2 tsp

Baking soda

1 tsp

Baking powder

½ tsp

Kosher salt

½ tsp

Ground cinnamon

¼ tsp

Cayenne pepper


1% low fat buttermilk

½ cup(s)

Canola oil

¼ cup(s), or other neutral oil


1 large egg(s)

Egg yolk

1 item(s), medium

Vanilla extract

½ tsp, pure variety

Black coffee

½ cup(s), or espresso, hot

Powdered sugar (confectioner's)

1½ Tbsp, for serving


  1. Adjust oven racks to divide oven in half. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray, then line bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Sift flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, chile powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne into bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix on low speed to combine.
  3. In a second bowl, whisk together well-shaken buttermilk, oil, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.
  4. With mixer on low speed, slowly add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, then slowly add hot coffee to form a very loose batter. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with a rubber spatula, to fully incorporate ingredients. (The batter will be very loose but that’s okay. Make sure to fully mix in coffee as directed otherwise the cake will sink in center.)
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake on middle rack until a cake tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean and sides of cake are pulling away from pan's edges, about 25 minutes.
  6. Cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes, then remove cake from pan and let it cool completely.
  7. Create a pattern on cake with powdered sugar using a stencil. Slice into 12 pieces and serve.
  8. Serving size: 1 slice