This time of year, I’m constantly looking for an excuse to bake. Sometimes I want to get crazy and try something like French macarons (which I definitely have yet to master, but head over to Stella Parks’ BraveTart if you’re feeling ambitious!), and other times I want something familiar like brownies or oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. These mini chocolate cakes happened when my baking moods collided and I wanted something a little familiar, a little crazy, a little adventurous and entirely satisfying to a cake-craving chocoholic.
We served these in cupcake form at the Scotch Malt Whiskey Society/Good Beer Hunting Scotch whisky tasting I wrote about last week and they were a hit. We paired them with a lightly spiced whisky with some subtle tropical fruit notes and they went oh so well together. The cake itself is the main event here. Without a moist and fluffy chocolate cake base, these would fall completely flat. Finding an all-star chocolate cake recipe was difficult, to say the least — so I experimented my way to the one I’m sharing today, and I believe it is truly the one.
I love cardamom and cocoa together. I think it’s one of those meant-to-be flavor combinations that should be experienced whenever possible. The depth of the spice with the buttery sweetness of the frosting against the deep chocolate base of the cake is just dreamy. Pipe in some velvety, tangy lemon curd and you’ve got a total party going on. If you’re not a huge lemon curd fan, you can skip it. But I would definitely suggest giving it a try.
Another thing I’m kind of obsessed with is making tiny versions of regular desserts. I had so much fun putting together mini pumpkin pies last year using Le Creuset Mini Cocottes, and I loved using 10 oz. ramekins to make these cakes. I’m not sure why, but the fact that they’re miniature really does make them taste better.
These would be a perfect dessert for your next holiday gathering. Tin coasters from FindersKeepers Market made the perfect serving plates. How fun is it to serve cakes on coasters?!
Top them off with a sprinkle of cocoa powder, and eat! Tiny forks required.
What was your favorite Thanksgiving dessert this year? What recipes are you excited to try out for Christmas? I can’t wait to hear! I’ll be taking notes as I build my own Christmas menu!
Mini Chocolate Cakes + Cardamom Buttercream and Lemon Curd
Mini Chocolate Cakes
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour, plus a little extra for the ramekins
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1.5 tsp. vanilla bean paste
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
You will also need twelve 10 oz. ramekins. If you don’t have that many, make as many mini cakes as you can and use the rest of the batter for cupcakes. The mini “cake plates” are actually tin coasters I got from FindersKeepers Market. Coasters are the perfect size for these cakes.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Butter and flour the ramekins.
3. Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with an electric hand mixer.
4. In a small bowl, combine the milk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix on low speed.
5. Add the coffee to the batter, still mixing on low and scraping down the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is fully incorporated.
6. Ladle the batter into your individual ramekins, leaving about 2 inches of space at the top of each.
7. Bake 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out almost clean (with some moist crumbs), and cool in the ramekins for 30 minutes. Once cool enough, turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
8. Once the cakes have completely cooled, carefully slice off the rounded tops so you have flat, even surfaces on both sides.
2 sticks salted butter at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla bean paste
2 tsp. ground cardamom
3 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup whole milk
1. Cream the butter until fluffy and pale.
2. Add the vanilla and cardamom and mix thoroughly with a hand mixer.
3. Alternate adding 1 cup of sugar at a time and a splash of milk, beating in between until smooth.
Ina Garten has a wonderful recipe for Lemon Curd here. There are 2 ways you can add the curd to your cakes. You can either pipe a dollop of curd into the center of each cake before frosting with cardamom buttercream, or you can slice each cake in half (to make 2 thinner rounds), and spread a layer of curd between them like you would a regular layer cake before frosting.