Hot Cakes chef breaks new ground
written by Charyn Pfeuffer | photo by Jim Henkens
At Hot Cakes in Seattle, pastry chef Autumn Martin deliciously blurs the line between sweet and savory. Think bacon oatmeal raisin cookies, rye whiskey caramel sauce and alder wood-smoked chocolate chips.
Martin’s Molten Chocolate Cakery got its start in 2008, when she began selling her popular take-and-bake molten chocolate cakes in mason jars at local farmers’ markets. In 2012, she sated the chocolate-loving masses when she opened a dessert café in the historic Ballard neighborhood. Reminiscent of an old-school soda fountain, Hot Cakes takes on the classics, but with innovations— boozy milkshakes and s’mores cookies are tasty examples. It’s her smoked chocolate chip-studded treats, however, that have garnered cult-like following among foodies.
For the fourth-generation Pacific Northwesterner, the flavor of smoked food is a personal matter. “My father fished for salmon and steelhead and would smoke a lot of his catch,” said Martin. “The process means a lot to me.” As a pastry chef, she sought an ingredient in the sweet world she could infuse with fireside flavor. It turned out to be chocolate. Martin uses fifty pounds of her cold-smoked chocolate chips each week.
In winter, Martin’s gooey warm molten cakes reign supreme with diners. Her smoked chocolate layered whiskey cake and bread pudding are close behind. But what is the dessert queen of Seattle’s favorite sweet treat? “I love ice cream and cookies, and if I can have them together, great!” she said.
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