I think (and hope) we all have teachers from elementary or high school or college who really left an impression on our lives. I consider myself very fortunate and am grateful that there were so many men and women in my life who taught me much more than the things applying to the subject at hand.
One of those wonderful people is a women named Señora Maiz. She was my high school Spanish teacher, and she was (and undoubtedly still is) one of the most passionate instructors I ever had. She loved her job, her students, and her language. One thing I that stands out in my mind about her is that even though her children attended a rival school in our district, she still fervently cheered for her students at track meets and the like.
I still remember a surprising amount of the Spanish she taught me, including several catchy songs. We also had a day each semester where we got to eat lots of delicious Mexican food, including delights like homemade enchiladas and fresh sopapillas. This batch of cupcakes, with its popular combination of cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and cocoa powder, is dedicated to Señora Maiz.
Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes
(makes about 24!)(but it's very easy to halve!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed. Divide batter evenly among prepared cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.
To make the frosting, beat the butter with an electric mixer for a few minutes. Add the powdered sugar gradually until the frosting is thick enough to spread easily, then beat in the cayenne pepper. Apply frosting generously to the cooled cupcakes, top each with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar, and, after giving the components a few minutes to get to know each other, devour.