Serious Eats: Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery

hotcakes_smorecut_640_2564The words “molten chocolate cake” alone are enough to make most people melt in delight, and this is exactly the effect of visiting chocolatier Autumn Martin’s new Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.

Martin is the former head chocolatier of Theo Chocolate, and previously a pastry chef at the renowned Canlis restaurant in Seattle. She developed a take-n-bake molten chocolate cake in a mason jar that sold like, well, hot cakes, and from there, a product line and cake bakery were born.

At Hot Cakes, chocolate lovers will have to make difficult decisions with a menu that sports grilled chocolate sandwiches, salted pretzels with chocolate (and other) dipping sauces, and of course the molten chocolate cakes. There are also a number of cookies, salted caramel cinnamon rolls, crème brûlée with rhubarb jam, and pocket pies both sweet and savory.

Hot Cakes serves up a variety of drinks, including coffee, kombucha, and cocktails. You can also opt for ice cold milk. True sugar warriors will want a milk chocolate or salted caramel milkshake, with other seasonal specials available. Look also for adult milkshakes, perhaps with smoked chocolate and scotch.

Martin’s personality shines in the store, which is full of wit and whimsy. The products are organic as is the feel, with Pacific Northwest wood prominent at the counter (which has a few stools for prized seating) and at the tables. A retail section in the front of the store includes take-home treats and a few other surprises, including Hot Cakes underwear to help keep your buns warm.

Here's the original Hot Cake, out of its mason jar and sitting unadorned. It's rich, made with nearly an entire Theo 70% dark chocolate bar.

Here’s the original Hot Cake, out of its mason jar and sitting unadorned. It’s rich, made with nearly an entire Theo 70% dark chocolate bar.

Autumn Martin, chef/owner of Hot Cakes, roasts a marshmallow for a S'more Molten Chocolate Cake.

Autumn Martin, chef/owner of Hot Cakes, roasts a marshmallow for a S’more Molten Chocolate Cake.

The s'more molten chocolate cake ($8.50) is a smoked chocolate cake on a pool of dark caramel, topped with a roasted marshmallow and served with graham crackers. Ooey, gooey, and smokily satisfying, it's an upscale retreat back to campfire days.

The s’more molten chocolate cake ($8.50) is a smoked chocolate cake on a pool of dark caramel, topped with a roasted marshmallow and served with graham crackers. Ooey, gooey, and smokily satisfying, it’s an upscale retreat back to campfire days.

Cookies include salted peanut butter, bacon oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, and s'mores.

Cookies include salted peanut butter, bacon oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, and s’mores.

The s'mores cookie ($3.00) has chunks of melted marshmallows and chocolate chips. Soft and sweet (and still warm, fresh out of the oven), this cookie calls for a glass of ice cold milk.

The s’mores cookie ($3.00) has chunks of melted marshmallows and chocolate chips. Soft and sweet (and still warm, fresh out of the oven), this cookie calls for a glass of ice cold milk.

Presentation of the grilled chocolate sandwich ($7.50), wrapped in parchment paper with a side of salted caramel sauce.

Presentation of the grilled chocolate sandwich ($7.50), wrapped in parchment paper with a side of salted caramel sauce.

Here's an inside look at the grilled chocolate sandwich. Potato bread is the perfect vessel—its softness compresses the sandwich and its slight sweetness is a nice match for the dark chocolate ganache filling. It's good enough to eat without the salted caramel sauce, but you'll want to dip.

Here’s an inside look at the grilled chocolate sandwich. Potato bread is the perfect vessel—its softness compresses the sandwich and its slight sweetness is a nice match for the dark chocolate ganache filling. It’s good enough to eat without the salted caramel sauce, but you’ll want to dip.

This crème brûlée ($7.50) boasts smooth silkiness and a vanilla flavor that pops, thanks to organic dairy products and double cooking at a very low temperature. The rhubarb jam adds a welcome tartness to the dessert without overpowering the subtlety of the vanilla.

This crème brûlée ($7.50) boasts smooth silkiness and a vanilla flavor that pops, thanks to organic dairy products and double cooking at a very low temperature. The rhubarb jam adds a welcome tartness to the dessert without overpowering the subtlety of the vanilla.

Hot Cakes' pocket pies ($5.00) are the perfect size for a snack. This apple cardamom ginger pie is not shy on spice notes, and the flaky crust is a sturdy and buttery holder for the filling. Other fruit pies include peach thyme honey and classic cherry, while savory pies include asparagus goat cheese and potato leek with bechamel.

Hot Cakes’ pocket pies ($5.00) are the perfect size for a snack. This apple cardamom ginger pie is not shy on spice notes, and the flaky crust is a sturdy and buttery holder for the filling. Other fruit pies include peach thyme honey and classic cherry, while savory pies include asparagus goat cheese and potato leek with bechamel.

Check the "Seasonal" board by the kitchen for specials that aren't on the regular menu. Salted caramel and milk chocolate are the regular milkshakes, but this lemon curd with candied lavender milkshake ($6.50) is a limited-time offering. Citrus lovers will enjoy the tang of the lemon curd, mellowed ever-so-slightly by the dollop of whipped cream on top. The candied lavender adds floral notes that work well with the lemon flavor.

Check the “Seasonal” board by the kitchen for specials that aren’t on the regular menu. Salted caramel and milk chocolate are the regular milkshakes, but this lemon curd with candied lavender milkshake ($6.50) is a limited-time offering. Citrus lovers will enjoy the tang of the lemon curd, mellowed ever-so-slightly by the dollop of whipped cream on top. The candied lavender adds floral notes that work well with the lemon flavor.

The counter at Hot Cakes is quite compelling, with a few stools for those who like to watch the workers prepare desserts. There is seating for about 26 people overall, and the wood furnishings give the dessert shop a Pacific Northwest feel.

The counter at Hot Cakes is quite compelling, with a few stools for those who like to watch the workers prepare desserts. There is seating for about 26 people overall, and the wood furnishings give the dessert shop a Pacific Northwest feel.

The store sells the original take-n-bake Hot Cakes ($8.00). Heat up these molten chocolate cakes right in the mason jars, and you can impress your guests at home. Vegan option available.

The store sells the original take-n-bake Hot Cakes ($8.00). Heat up these molten chocolate cakes right in the mason jars, and you can impress your guests at home. Vegan option available.

The retail section at the front of the store sells a wide variety of goodies, from caramel (original, extra salty, and vegan) to smoked chocolate chips to, yes, Hot Cakes undies. Such is the spirit of this fun little dessert shop.

The retail section at the front of the store sells a wide variety of goodies, from caramel (original, extra salty, and vegan) to smoked chocolate chips to, yes, Hot Cakes undies. Such is the spirit of this fun little dessert shop.

(Originally published at Serious Eats on June 7.)

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