Dreamy molten chocolate cakes. Boozy, frothy shakes. Big buttery cookies. Velvety sipping chocolate. These are just some of the offerings at Hot Cakes in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, owned by Autumn Martin (former pastry chef for Canlis, and former Head Chocolatier for Theo Chocolate). While still working for Theo, Autumn first started selling the molten chocolate cakes at the local market in 2008 and using her award-winning Theo's chocolate in them. She soon had such a devoted following, that opening this shop was clearly the next step.
The space is quite small, fairly sparce but cozy, and smells decadent. She offers other tasty items besides chocolate—sweet and savory pies, shakes and malts, a full coffee bar, and handmade salted caramel sauce, to name a few—but, in my opinion, the chocolate is really the draw.
About a month ago, on a cold, quiet Saturday morning, just after she opened, Autumn gave my friend and me a private tour of the tiny facility. We got to sample various types of chocolate in the various stages of making. (The cold-smoked chocolate chips were surprisingly mouth-watering.) In addition to serving food and drinks in the shop, she gives classes on truffle making, and distributes some of her organic products to specialty shops around the nation.
Autumn is doing something she’s immensely passionate about, but also something she’s clearly gifted at. She sources high-end ingredients for the innovative desserts she creates, and it shows in the flavor and quality of her products. We got to take home a bag full of other goodies, such as apple butter and take-n-bake peanut butter cookies. I have yet to taste anything there that didn’t meet or exceed my expectations. Everything is made from organic ingredients and a few of her items are vegan.
Most of you know that I hoard (er, collect) cookbooks. And I'm happy to say that today, Autumn’s new book “Malts & Milkshakes” goes on the market. (You can order from Amazon. She might also sell it in the shop.) It contains 60 recipes for boozy shakes, soda fountain classics, and gourmet syrups and herbal-infusions for shakes and malts.
All photos by Jackie Donnelly Baisa