James K. Polk is sometimes thought of as the last strong president until Abraham Lincoln. Other times he is called the first “dark horse” president. While he was watching election-related things unfold, he realized that the presidential candidates, Martin Van Buren and Henry Clay were avoiding the highly contentious issue of expansionism. Polk brought the issue into the ring, declaring himself in favor of expansionism and became the Democratic candidate for the office. Some of this expansion had very much to do with the United States’ southern neighbor, Mexico. The rest had to do with Great Britain. Since it was under the Polk  presidency that the United States gained most of what is now known as the southwest, I decided to play with the idea of Mexico for Polk’s cupcake.


The cake:

10 presidents into this project, and we haven’t yet had a chocolate cupcake. With James K. Polk it’s time to fix that. The cupcake name gives the perfect excuse to incorporate chocolate. To bring Mexico into the equation, I decided to add cinnamon to the cupcake, a nod toward Mexican chocolate. Also, I decided to add some spice in the way of cayenne. After all, to expand into someone else’s territory is pretty spicy.  The cupcake is topped with cinnamon buttercream, and garnished with four mini chocolate chips, a reference to Polk setting four clearly-defined goals for his presidency. Overall, I would call this cupcake a success. This was one of the batches that I had to give away in quick order. Otherwise, too many of them would have resulted in thigh expansion for me. That’s no Manifest Destiny.


  1. Rita says:

    I live just a few miles from President Polk’s birthplace. In fact, I was just there earlier today to celebrate his birthday! Due to petitions and demonstrations, the historic place was saved from being closed by the state government this summer. Is there any way that I could get the actual recipe for this? I think the volunteers there would LOVE some of these. Thanks!

    • sherlonya says:

      Hi Rita! I had no idea that President Polk’s birthplace had been in danger of closing. I am so glad that it will stay available!! I will post the recipe a little later this evening.

    • sherlonya says:

      Hi again! I’m sorry that it took so long to post the recipe, but I have done it: http://headofstatecakes.com/?p=333. I hope that the volunteers will enjoy some Dark Horse Cupcakes. Even more that that, I’m glad that their work could keep this site open for students and history lovers to enjoy!