Seattleite Spotlight: Autumn Martin of Hot Cakes

Autumn Martin of Hot Cakes. Photo by Charlie Ainslie.

From mason jar cakes to boozy shakes.

Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery has satisfied sweet-toothed Seattleites since chocolatier Autumn Martin founded the company in 2008. I recently joined Ms. Martin at Caffe Vita in Seward Park, where she shared some secrets of the chocolate trade.

Autumn Martin of Hot Cakes. Photo by Charlie Ainslie.

Prior to Hot Cakes, you were the head chocolatier at Theo Chocolate for four and a half years. How did this experience shape your career? 

First and foremost, my experience at Theo really taught me how to be a chocolatier. I did a lot of experimenting, practicing, book reading. I went to the Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Montreal for a week and studied chocolate under an amazing chocolatier, Julian Rose, and learned a lot of technical stuff.

Also, I developed a really strong community in the food world. I eventually became a board member for the chef’s collaborative and spent a lot of time working with farmers and local chefs.

What led to the creation of your signature Take-n-Bake Molten Chocolate Cake in a Mason Jar?

I was making a dessert for a catered dinner on our friend’s farm. I wanted to do a dessert that was obviously very chocolaty and delicious, and had this cute country feel. Immediately, my mind went to mason jars. People flipped out at that dinner – the ladies, especially. They placed orders for dinner parties they were having the following week, and I thought, ‘this is really fun…I can sell the raw batter for people to take home and bake in their own oven.’

What did you learn about chocolate during your four-month stint in Spain?

Well, I didn’t learn much about chocolate. I was more interested in learning about farming. Every since culinary school, I’ve had an interest in agriculture. I started volunteering on local farms…when I knew I wanted to leave Theo, I seized the opportunity to leave the country and live and work on a farm. Ironically, [the family I stayed with] also ran an eco-tourism company, so we ended up doing a lot of cooking as well. It was pretty rad.

What’s the story behind the ‘Oh Wow!’ stamp featured on Hot Cakes products?

Honestly, it comes from customers. We strongly believe in the quality of ingredients that go into our products and the quality in which we produce all of our products. At the farmer’s markets, there are people who take a bite of the molten chocolate cake and will go, ‘Oh…wow!’ So we compiled the comment we hear most when they taste the cake or the caramel sauce.

Two Hot Cakes offerings -- Smoked Chocolate Chips and S'more Cookies. Photo by Absalom Shantz

Your bacon, oatmeal and raisin cookies were recently featured in “Bon Appetit” magazine. What led you to incorporate pork belly into your baking? 

Growing up, my dad would put bacon in our waffles. We would also top our Malt-o-Meal with bacon, brown sugar, butter and heavy cream. Not the healthiest of breakfasts, but it was delicious. It’s important for me to keep tradition alive, so with this company I’ve tried to incorporate my family into the products.

Which Hot Cakes dessert is your personal favorite? 

My all-time favorite, and the one I eat most is the Dark Decadence Molten Cake. It’s the original product, the joyous jar of chocolate that put Hot Cakes on the map. I find myself eating one for a late morning snack. Next in line is our Salted Peanut Butter cookie–all I can say is, Oh WOW!

Do you have any chocolate tips for folks who watch their figures? 

I would say eat it straight up. Chocolate itself doesn’t have a lot of unhealthy fat in it. There is a considerable amount of cocoa butter, which is the cocoa fat, in chocolate. But it’s a healthy fat. It’s when you get into things like chocolate cake, which has a lot more sugar, heavy whipping cream, ganache, egg yolks – that’s when you get into more calories and fat.

Is there a Hot Cakes recipe book in the works?

I actually just finished a cookbook on milkshakes – 60 recipes for malt and milkshakes. It will be out Winter 2013. There are classic recipes, really modern flavors and boozy recipes. We’ll feature a lot of those recipes in the shop.

Ms. Martin also said she plans to write a Hot Cakes cookbook once she “gets settled” into her Ballard store, which is scheduled to open in mid-May 2012. For now, local chocoholics can order Hot Cakes goodies online.

Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery | 5427 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle | (206) 420-3431