Chocolate Decadence Minis: one-bite wonders

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Do you like melted chocolate?

And chocolate cake?

How about melted chocolate inside chocolate cake?

Want to make this dessert the EASY way?

No, not with a mix; with a simple technique. Read on…

Chocolate lava cakes were all the rage a few years ago, but they can be tricky to master. If you over-bake them for even 60 seconds,  the “lava” disappears, morphed into the cake it was always meant to be.

So I was thinking, how about just forgetting the unbaked batter thing, and simply adding solid chocolate to the center of an unbaked mini cake?

Yes, MINI cake; spring’s on the way, and it’s time to start thinking about – gulp – swimsuits. Which means it’s time to downsize the desserts.

Enter the mini muffin pan, a.k.a. mini cake pan, savior of calorie-counting foodies everywhere.

Don’t you feel noble eating a little two-bite cake, instead of a monster double-layer slab? Sure you do. And then you can justify eating another, because they’re just so tiny and cute.

And then you reach for that third cake… But hey, it still doesn’t add up to a WHOLE SLICE, right?

OK, before I succeed in talking you out of these melting marvels, let’s dive in: Chocolate Decadence Minis.

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I swear by our Double Dutch Cocoa, a perfect blend of two Dutch-process cocoas; one lightly Dutched, the other more heavily.

So, what IS “Dutching,” exactly? Cocoa tends to be acidic; and that acid tends to overpower cocoa’s other more subtle flavors. Dutching is an alkalizing process that lowers cocoa’s acidity, yielding a product with richer, smoother flavor, one that makes darker-colored, more “chocolate-y” looking baked goods.

If you’re shopping for supermarket cocoa, Hershey offers “Special Dark,” a blend of Dutch-process and unsweetened baking cocoas that replaces their earlier 100% Dutch-process “European-style” cocoa. Unfortunately, it’s gotten very mixed reviews, with many foodies saying it doesn’t match the quality of the discontinued European-style.

Did I mention I LOVE our Double Dutch?

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Ditto our espresso powder, chocolate’s best friend. Use just a touch to heighten the flavor of chocolate, without adding any mocha or coffee notes.

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Next: solid chocolate to melt inside the baking cakes. Which shall I choose?

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One that can be smoothly stacked to mirror the size of a Hershey’s Kiss. that would be Guittard Onyx wafers.  A stack of four makes a sweet little bundle to tuck inside your mini cake.

OK, enough chit-chat. Let’s bake Chocolate Decadence Minis.

First, preheat your oven to 400°F. Grease a 20- or 24-cup mini muffin pan.

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Melt 1/2 cup butter, and stir in 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, and 1/2 cup hot water.

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In a separate bowl, whisk together:

1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

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Pour the cocoa mixture over the dry ingredients.

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Stir to blend.

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Beat in the following:

1/4 cup buttermilk, plain yogurt, or sour cream; low-fat is fine
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Scoop a scant 4 teaspoons batter; a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here.

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Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full.

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Submerge several nuggets of your favorite solid chocolate — about enough to equal the size of a Hershey’s Kiss (right) — in the center of each. Note: Hershey’s Kisses won’t melt inside the cakes; pick a more “meltable” chocolate, like Guittard Onyx wafers.

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At first, I plopped four wafers into the batter horizontally.

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Then I tried them on end. Which method works best? We shall see…

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Bake the cakes for 10 minutes.

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They’ll puff up nicely.

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Remove them from the oven.

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Gently nudge them out of the pan.

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This USA Pan is a pleasure to use; notice how cleanly it releases the cakes.

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Serve immediately. Upside-down works best, so the chocolate disks (which have sunk to the bottom) are now on top…

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… anxious to reveal themselves in all their melting glory.

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Here’s a test of three different chocolates: Onyx wafers (bottom); Burgundy chunks (middle); and a Hershey’s Kiss (top). The Kiss softened, but didn’t melt, unlike the other two chocolates.

Even though I usually choose Burgundy chunks, in this recipe I liked the Onyx wafers best. They’re bittersweet chocolate, while Burgundy chunks are semisweet. And since the cake itself is rather sweet and mild, the bittersweet offers a nice contrast in flavor.

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And what about the horizontal vs. vertical stacking of the Onyx wafers? Well, after much examination (and numerous taste tests, of course), I deduced the vertically stacked wafers created a nicer “pool” of melted chocolate.

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Ready to impress your dinner guests? Put three mini cakes on each plate. Add whipped cream if you like. Serve fairly quickly; the chocolate will start to solidify after about 30 minutes. If you do let them go too long, a quick zap in the microwave gets that chocolate flowing again.

These freeze and reheat beautifully. When they’re entirely cool, wrap in plastic and freeze (for up to 6 weeks or so). To serve, remove however many you want; and heat in the microwave very briefly, maybe 10-15 seconds. The cake will taste fresh-baked, the chocolate will be lava-like, and your audience will be suitably impressed.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Chocolate Decadence Minis.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Lish

    You are killing my willpower! These look amazing, and so cute! I think that this will be on the menu for the kids’ birthdays. Frosting on the inside! And just their size, plus I can freeze what is left so that I don’t eat the whole batch and put back on those 6 pounds I lost. Thanks for a great blog, as always : )

    Totally good for kids, Lish – and I love how freezable they are. I’ve actually had some in the freezer for 6 weeks now, and a zap in the microwave and they’re good as new. Enjoy- PJH

    Reply
  2. kathy

    OR you could line them up on a rectangular plate puddled with a fruit coulis… or a warm caramel… or lightly sweetened, mint-flavored whipped cream… or dust ‘em with powdered sugar… or or or…

    This is a recipe to make the “garnishers’” imaginations run wild! Great work!

    Reply
  3. linda

    you are talkin’ my language pjh!
    *heart* this recipe & chocolate.

    kaf apf: CHECK
    kaf double dutch chocolate: CHECK
    kaf espresso powder: CHECK
    kaf onyx wafers: CHECK (stacked or vertical)
    kaf: burgundy chunks: CHECK
    kaf/usa pan: CHECK (I will “christen” w/this recipe! YAH!)

    having a dinner party next month…bake/ freeze is the way for me!

    thank you for this great post…won’t my guests feel “noble!”

    :) PJH

    Reply
  4. Ann

    Dear Lord. These look good. Have you tested them in a regular muffin tin instead of the mini? I’d love to make them but don’t have a mini.
    We have a regular muffin version, Homemade Chocolate Lava Cakes. You may either use this recipe or make the new version and follow this recipe for baking and timing as guideline. Joan D @bakershotline

    Reply
  5. HMB

    No fair — you wait until AFTER Valentine’s Day and the day before Lent begins to publish a chocolate recipe!?!? Oh, well, good things come to those who wait!

    Reply
  6. Ellen in Texas

    I’ve always passed by the chocolate lava cake recipes with just barely a glace, but after reading today’s blog, I’VE GOT TO MAKE THESE! I’m putting the mini muffin pan and the chocolate discs on my shopping list for my next KAF order.

    Reply
  7. Beth

    It’s not just willpower you’re killing, PJ. (in followup to Lish’s comments): My checking account hardly has a chance after I read these blogs. Why doesn’t King Arthur Flour have something similar to Frequent Flyer Miles; say, Frequent Foodie Miles. Are you in cahoots with Weight Watchers? Something similar to dentists giving their patients candy? And today is Ash Wednesday too. I should never have looked at this blog. Sigh…..

    Reply
  8. leila

    I am a great fan of your fabulous blog, I made ur cafe au laite today and it is in the oven at the moment & i can feel its heavenly smell….
    im gonna try this chocolate minis in a week definitely,
    Q: since i cant find these exact chocolates where i live, does chocolate chips works for this recipe?
    Yes you may use chocolate chips in this receipe. Joan D @bakershotline

    They may not melt well, Leila; chocolate chips are designed to hold their shape during baking. A better choice would probably be a bar of Hershey’s Special Dark, or something like that. An eating chocolate. PJH

    Reply
  9. Kathy

    I dig that this recipe allows for some fun garnishing. I could see these lined up on a rectangular plate that’s been puddled with fruit coulis or warm caramel sauce, for example. (Imagine swirling the warm, melty chocolate with said sauce…!)

    One could also dollop the plate with softly whipped, lightly sweetened whipped cream, which might also be flavored – a touch of one’s favorite extract or oil, or citrus zest, or a dab of jam or jelly, or a bit of melted white chocolate, perhaps.

    Even a light dusting of powdered sugar – or cocoa! – right before the cake’s spooned into by a lucky guest would be a handsome accent.

    Great ideas for your lucky guest! Joan D @bakershotline

    Reply
  10. RobynB

    Great-looking recipe! Just wanted to mention that your link for the Lava Cakes isn’t working; it takes one to the KA Shopping homepage. Since I only have a regular muffin pan, I wanted to check it out… Thanks!

    Reply
  11. Kelly

    You had me at easy chocolate lava. And decadence. And mini. Ah heck, the whole package is scrumptious!

    Walk… away… from… the screen, Kelly. Lest you try to scratch and sniff… :) PJH

    Reply
  12. MaryJane

    Wait, just which freezer are these in, the one in the pantry, or the one out in the main room? I’m working the late shift tonight so I need to know where to get my evening chocolate fix tee hee! ~ MaryJane

    On the door of the freezer by Deb’s office – about 12 seconds in the microwave? Wait, I’ll go check and see if there are any left… :)

    Woo-hoo! If they are mini, then maybe I can top my Girl Scout Thin Mint with one or vice versa, heavy accent on the “vice!”! ~ MJ

    They’re definitely mini. Third shelf down on the door, ziplock bag… MMM-MMMM!!! PJ

    Reply
  13. Shirley

    It is Lent so I made these for the student nurses I teach. I know they will enjoy them as they did the chocolate cookies I made them last week. So glad you put how many seconds I would need to microwave them!
    Mine didn’t turn out near as pretty as yours but they will enjoy them anyway.
    Hot Cross Buns for Easter (recipe) I hope.

    Reply
  14. Sandy

    I love the lava cakes and have made them numerous times. They are tricky as far as how long to bake so the inside is still molten. I love the recipe I use and have had great luck so far making them with tons of the molten chocolate oozing out…yum. I can see though that your recipe certainly takes the anxiety out of making these types of cakes.

    Reply
  15. Christine

    I was very upset when Hershey’s decided to RUIN their Dutch process cocoa. When they came out with regular Dutch process cocoa I was overjoyed! It made my chocolate pound cake absolutely sing! And then, for some reason I cannot fathom, they changed thier formula to make a cocoa that makes everything taste like an oreo cookie. It’s a perfect example of “if it’s not broke, let’s break it”, lol. Thanks for letting me vent… :)

    Reply
  16. Mike T.

    Oh yum! I’m not a big lava cake fan. I mean, raw batter is good off the spatula, but I’m not a big fan of raw cake. But I do like melted chocolate stuck in the middle. I have a recipe for one that you make a chocolate truffle and press it (frozen) into the cake after it’s been in the oven for about 5 min. Messy to make (the truffles) but I don’t know why it never occurred to me to use chocolate disks! Thanks PJ!!!
    I’ve thought about the truffle thing many times, we have a Lindt chocolate store here that sells seconds, but I haven’t tried it yet. Thanks for the reminder Mike! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  17. Karen

    What about the chocolate filling you sell? I have just ordered some and was hoping to tuck into brownies and cupcakes. What is it’s melting gooey point in the oven?
    I haven’t tried the chocolate filling inside a cake like this, so don’t know how it would work. PJ? Others? Let us know if you’ve tried it! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  18. Sue E. Conrad

    Hi, P.J.!

    Despite the fact that I’m not a chocoholic – yeah, I know, shocking!! – these look dee-lish……….but cheese, the stronger-flavored the better, is my particular weakness. As for Hershey’s Special Dark, I don’t care for the powdered variety; however, the chips are THE BEST for chocolate chip cookies!!! And then there are those USA pans……..I’ll be buying a couple of sheet pans this summer during our annual pilgrimage to KAF. Was going to buy Chicago Metallic, but the “made in China” stopped me in my tracks!

    Looking forward to our summer trip to New England……….that is, if “summer” ever arrives!!!

    Reply
  19. Jeanette Jacobs

    Would a Reese’s Pieces also work inside? I realize that only the coating might melt, but the peanut butter center would be very tasty!
    Rock on Jeanette! Let us know how it comes out. ~MaryJane

    Reply
  20. Sheri

    Sounds great. I make Sunday dinner for the extended family, & I’m always looking for a new dessert. Any ideas for a vanilla, lemon, etc. So I could plate a few different ones to taste.
    Hi Sheri,
    Try typing “mini” in the recipe search window. Lots of lovely tasty tiny tidbits to try. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  21. Casey

    The link for the regular size lava cake recipe doesn’t take you to the recipe]
    (see comment #3 response). I just checked because I didn’t realize there
    was a recipe, just your mix, which I adore for speed & simplicity!

    Sorry, Casey, I still don’t understand. Are you seeing a link for a lava cake recipe in this blog? If so, could you tell me where it is? I’m scrolling through and don’t see a link anywhere. Maybe you mean I mention lava cake, but didn’t provide a link? If so, here’s the link for individual cakes with melting centers: Chocolate Surprise Cakes. Let me know if I’m still not getting it… PJH

    OK, Casey, finally found it in the comments. Should be all set now. Sorry for the confusion! PJH

    Reply
  22. Patty

    They look AWESOME!, got an idea….could I use a mini Milky Way (maybe a half) instead of the Kisses? Do you think it will melt? Love you all
    Like we always say… “GO FOR IT!” If you have an idea, give it a try and share the results. We can’t try every combination even if we wanted to, time marches on ever faster, so we really rely on our fellow bakers to keep the ball merrily rolling along with new ideas, because we love you too! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  23. Kate P

    PJ: Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate, but I read this and immediately wondered what a white/yellow cake mini with ?lemon curd ?lime curd might be like…… Easter’s coming, you know.
    Go for it Kate! Sounds good to me too. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  24. FRAN S

    You referenced a link for the regular muffin version of chocolate lava cakes but it does not connect. I’ve tried searching for chocolate lava cakes but the search ends here at the mini version.

    Reply
  25. carolyn

    To push the Thin Mints idea a little farther, how about a few junior mints tossed in instead of the chocolate? It wouldn’t quiet be lava cake, but it sure would be tasty.
    And for a citrus mini-cake, individual lemon/orange/fiori di sicilia pudding cakes are light and (almost) as much fun as lava cakelettes.

    Reply
  26. Theresa

    Mmmmmmmmmm! I am thinking a Rollo (chocolate covered caramel) would be quite tasty in this application! Smooth, melty, buttery, caramely deliciousness oozing out of a dark chocolate cake. Got to get to my kitchen and bake. NOW!!!!

    Reply
  27. Karen

    I made these the night this was posted. It was my first time attempting these, and it was SUCH A HIT! Whipped cream dollops on top made it so yummy. I only had chocolate with lecithin in it, even in the callebaut bars I had, so I used a few Ghiradelli bittersweet choc chips instead. I don’t think any of my guests minded!

    Reply
  28. Beth Kaplan

    These are absolutely delicious! I used the bittersweet buttons from KAF and my in-laws, who are complete chocoholics LOVED them. It was a dry run for a party I am throwing in March and this will definitely make an appearance on the dessert table! Thank you so much for the delicious recipe. I am relatively new to King Arthur and to blogging so it is great to see these wonderful recipes!!

    Reply
  29. Mary

    These taste great! I had a lot of trouble getting them out of the just-purchased from KAF USA mini-muffin pan, though. I did grease the pan, thoroughly, but the bottoms of almost all of the cakes stuck to the pan and as I tried to remove the cakes, the cakes broke in half. That was very frustrating. I used the Guittard wafers, and their ingredient list includes lecithin, but they melted well anyway.

    Reply
  30. Lauren

    I’m planning on making this recipe this weekend but am struggling to find the right chocolate. I bought a Special Dark bar as suggested above but lecithin is listed as an ingredient – isn’t that the “problematic” ingredient also found in hershey kisses and chocolate chips? Any other suggestions for chocolate to use that can be found at a local grocery store? I can’t wait to try it!

    Lauren, the Special Dark should be fine – it doesn’t have as much lecithin as chocolate chips… PJH

    Reply
  31. llc333

    What about adding marshmallows to brownies? I had a box brownie that was very good & the lady said she added marshmallows. I wonder what quantity?
    I would recommend adding 1c. of mini marshmallows. They do sort of disappear some in the baking process. I know of a local restaurant who adds malted milk balls to their brownies. That is good, too! Elisabeth

    Reply
  32. platinumgranny

    What a delicious disaster! Followed the recipe to the “T,” using a mini cake pan, which I greased using solid shortening. Had already bought the espresso powder, the onyx chocolate discs and everything. Baked them 10 min., as per the directions. They puffed up nicely & promptly fell when I took them out of the oven. There was just no way to “nudge” them gently out of the pan. They were stuck fast even while still warm. So I called the bakers hot line. I spoke to a very nice woman whose only thought was that they must have been slightly underbaked & that’s why they fell. So I asked about putting the remaining batter in your 6oz. silicone baking cups & baking them longer, this time with the convection oven fan turned off. She suggested I spray the silicone cups well with cooking spray first, then cook them for 14 min. & using an instant read thermometer, check for a temperature of 165+. So I did all of that. When I checked the temp. it nearly went to 170. … Still stuck, hard, even in silicone! I had intended to take them to my grandson at his college for his birthday. But that messy disaster wouldn’t be a good birthday gift, so I made something else. My husband & I are prying the minis out of the pan to eat them and they are really delicious! Nothing to look at, but delicious. If I try this recipe again, I’ll use mini cupcake papers. At least that way I should be able to get them out of the pan. I’m open to any ideas you might have about what went wrong.

    Sorry, I have no idea at all what could have made them stick so securely; I use a non-stick mini muffin pan and grease with no-stick vegetable oil spray; but solid shortening should work just as well, so… Haven’t a clue. Baking can be a mystery every now and then – sorry I can’t be more help to you. :( PJH

    Reply
  33. platinumgranny

    Just had a thought as I was prying 2 more mini cakes out of the pan. The directions said to “submerge” the chocolate discs in the batter. But the photos show them just placed in the center of each cup. (I baked first & looked at the recipe online after.) I pushed them down to “submerge” them. I wonder if they went so far down that the chocolate stuck to the bottom as the cakes baked. I think I need to take another crack at this recipe and let them cook another minute or two in the convection oven, but only set the chocolate discs on them. So, cook 10-12 min. (With my convection oven I find that when I “convert” the temp. for convection cooking I need a few extra minutes to complete the cooking, but if I don’t “convert” the temp. things burn.) Just thinking out loud, so to speak, to bounce some ideas off you. Your thoughts, please.
    Yes, I suggest you place the chocolate pieces on the tops of these divine little cakes next time. If you do not have an oven thermometer already, I highly recommend it. It will at least help you with the adjustment of the temperature. Then you will have to watch for the time! Hope you can try this recipe again soon! Elisabeth

    Reply

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