"Aztec Two Step" popped into my head when I heard what this contest was called. Then I had to set about learning what Aztec Two Step refers to (I didn't know), and then follow the path of chocolate from the Aztecs to Spain, and then the rest of Europe, with an especially helpful stop in Italy.
I found an amazing video at www.gourmetsleuth.com, which shows two women from Oaxaca (now living in LA) making "Mexican Chocolate" from raw cacao beans into the dried disc used to make the chocolate drink whirred with a molinillo. Then Blue Corn and Chocolate, by Elisabeth Rozin, told the story of chocolate from the Aztec court of Montezuma to the modern chocolate bar.
Two Step? I wanted something like a terrine with two different layers, two different colors.. Somehow ricotta seemed like a fit, and a spicy cocoa rub for pork roast was reinvented to come closer to the pantry of pre-invasion Mexico and the recipe in my head..
Helpful resources: Budino di Ricotta from Ada Boni's Italian Regional Cooking; Cocoa Rub from the blog http://dailybreadjournal.blogspot.com/.
We loved the outcome, decided it was a coffee cake, and tried it warm, cool, and next day. Each is different, each is good. It is very moist at first, but the next day the moisture is redistributed and the texture much more firm. It has an endearing look, but it's not pretty. A sieving of confectioner's sugar, a spoon of barely sweetened vanilla whipped cream, sliced strawberries -- you can dress it up for looks and a bit of contrast, but the cake stands on its own.
My sources say that sugar was not used with cacao, and cinnamon was brought to Mexico by the Spaniards. Necessarily, liberties have been taken.
My tasters and I thought that this unusual gluten-free dish resembled a terrine more than an actual cake (it contains no leaveners or fat other than what is in the ricotta cheese). But whatever you call it, this dish is certainly delicious. The eggs and ricotta cheese give this "cake" a lovely, creamy texture with just enough structure to hold it together. We all loved the cinnamon-infused chunks of Ibarra chocolate and the peppery, floral spice rub, which gives the finished dish a subtle but flavorful kick. We enjoyed this dish right after baking, but it is even better the next day when the texture has firmed up a bit. Make sure that you butter your pan really well, so that the cake unmolds without breaking and drain the ricotta cheese before adding it to the beaten egg, so that the batter is not overly moist. —cookinginvictoria