Spicy Chocolate Chile Cupcakes

These doubly chocolate cupcakes, heated up with some spicy red chile, are extraordinarily special. The mellowness of the milk chocolate contrasted with the richness of the semisweet chocolate is a taste treat you won't forget. These are perfect for everything from a birthday party to an afternoon tea-a great snack when you feel the urge for chocolate, and an ideal dessert for a chili meal. Frost them with your favorite chocolate butter cream frosting and if in a hurry, you can use the pre-prepared.

Yield: 12 cupcakes

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
14 Tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla, preferably Mexican vanilla
Pinch salt
2 Tablespoons pure, hot ground red chile
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup milk chocolate chips
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 F. Place paper liners in 12 muffin cups

2. Place the semisweet chocolate chips and all the butter in a medium microwave-safe mixing bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and microwave on full power for 1 minute. Stir, and repeat until the chocolate and butter are just melted-do not overheat, as it will ruin the chocolate (If you prefer, you can melt the butter and chocolate together in a heavy saucepan. Start over medium heat and then switch to low for the best result, 6 to 8 minutes total)

3. Place the eggs in a small bowl and lightly whisk them. Then add the sugar, vanilla, salt, and chile, and mix until well blended.

4. Add the flour to the egg mixture and stir only until just blended. Add the chocolate-butter mixture, the chocolate chips, and the pecans, and mix only until just blended. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups, and back until just barely done, 30 to 35 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out almost clean, with perhaps a crumb or two.

5. Place the muffin tin on a wire rack, and let it cool for 10 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes from the tin and let them cool completely.

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