Mini Dark Chocolate Cake
Have you ever had a favorite recipe that you don’t make as often as you’d like, because you just have entirely too much left over? Mini Dark Chocolate Cake came out of one such recipe. This is my very favorite chocolate cake, and now I will bake it more often, because it’s just enough.
Oh, Nathalie, I do so love you
Nathalie, I really want you to be my friend and teach me your ways. For you have created the most amazing cake. Your dark chocolate cake was one of the very first cakes I ever baked from scratch, and, honestly, you kind of spoiled me for other cakes. I bake this for people, and they love me. I bake it for myself, and . . . I have waaaaaay too much cake.
Alas, your recipe makes enough rich, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cake to feed a small nation, and, while it keeps beautifully, when I make it for myself, I just can’t get through all of it. So, my dear Nathalie, I made a mini-version of your cake: Mini Gâteau au Chocolat Fondant de Natahalie (aka Mini Dark Chooclate Cake). I do hope you will be proud.
An internet-famous dark chocolate cake from early food blogs
If you, Dear Reader, followed food blogs back in the day, you have come across this cake before. It’s even made an appearance on this blog. If you made it, you’re probably still dreaming about it. This cake is nothing short of stupendous. It’s easy to make (if you can melt chocolate and turn on an oven, it’s yours), but it is decadent. Making it occasion worthy is as simple as topping it with a little whipped cream before serving (the top does crack, but you won’t care).
It tastes something like a cross between a truffle and mousse. It’s so rich and delicious. I’ve never seen anyone scarf this down; instead, they take slow bites and eat in silence. You will too.
A debt to Chocolate and Zucchini
I stumbled across this recipe on Chocolate and Zucchini and made it for some guests, and the rest, as they say, is history. My mother loves it as her birthday cake, and I’ve made it for countless others. I don’t really make any other cakes. I will say that I love the original recipe instead of the updated recipe on the Chocolate and Zucchini bog, but her addition of the flaky sea salt really adds something, and I have incorporated that into the mini dark chocolate cakes.
It really is just too much, though
There really is just one problem with this cake. It is so rich that an eight-inch cake pan makes too many servings, especially if we’re cooking for just us or a small dinner party. It keeps, but that only gets us so far. Too much of a good thing, alas.
So . . . I did a thing. I made a cute little Mini Gâteau au Chocolat Fondant de Natahalie. And, behold, this Mini Dark Chocolate Cake was good and just enough.
Use the good stuff
While you don’t need to take up a life of crime to bake this cake, especially in mini form, it does favor the good stuff. Use good dark chocolate (72% is perfect—I tried it with 85% once and did not like it) and European butter if you can find it. A good egg from a happy chicken will also make this that much better. The flaky sea salt is optional, but it does help to balance the cake.
The original recipe for Gâteau au Chocolat Fondant de Nathalie calls for five (count ‘em) eggs, so what I did was cut the recipe down to one egg, and then bake it in two little adorable little 4-inch cake pans. Be careful on how much you fill them (about halfway is perfect). My experimental cakes where I chanced filling them a little higher tasted as good as I dreamed, but they did puff over the top and looked like muffins when they cooled. You’re still going to love the cake if that happens, but it does make for a tippy slice of cake.
Nonstick is your friend
If you aren’t baking mini cakes on the regular, the ones I’ve linked should serve you just fine. Nonstick is your friend here, and even still I have used the recommended buttered parchment on the bottom, and it’s necessary. If this recipe has a flaw it is that it sticks like the dickens, and I have more than once run into problems with getting it to come out of the pan looking nice. If you’re in doubt, you can leave it in the pan, but this method should stand you in good stead.
Weighing ingredients and mise en place
You’ll also want a scale. This recipe is forgiving, but it’s good practice to weigh baking ingredients, as it’s pretty easy to have too much or too little of an ingredient, and the reduced flour measurement is a weird 2/3s of a teaspoon of flour. If you weigh your ingredients at the beginning, you’ll have most of your mise en place set, which is good, because this recipe goes fast.
Be sure not to overbake Mini Dark Chocolate Cake
Mini Dark Chocolate Cake is done when the center is just a bit jiggly and the edges are puffed and a bit shiny (they might crack, and that’s OK). The cake will fall anyway, so you might want to check it earlier rather than later, because you really don’t want to overbake the cake. Ovens vary so much that the time is approximate, but it bakes in about 16 minutes.
Serving Mini Dark Chocolate Cake
Like all chocolate cakes, Mini Dark Chocolate Cake one is better the next day. It’s hard to be patient, because your kitchen is going to smell like the angles came down from heaven and had a party in your oven. Those same angels will reward you for your patience.
Mini Dark Chocolate Cake is one rich little morsel, so use your judgement with slices. A little dollop of whipped cream, barely sweetened (or not at all) and perhaps some berries is all you need.
Mini Gâteau au Chocolat Fondant de Nathalie (aka Mini Dark Chocolate Cake)
- 2 4" round cake pans nonstick is better
- 1 double boiler substitute a heat-proof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water
- 1 small sheet pan to place the cake pan on
- 1 cooling rack
- 40 grams butter good quality European butter is best
- 40 grams 72% dark chocolate good quality
- 50 grams granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1.6 grams all-purpose flour this is about ⅔s of a teaspoon
- flaky sea salt optional
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter two 4-inch cake pans and line the bottom with parchment. Butter the parchment lightly
- In a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and the butter until completely melted40 grams butter, 40 grams 72% dark chocolate
- Transfer the melted chocolate and butter to a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Allow to cool slightly (to avoid cooking the egg)50 grams granulated sugar
- Add the egg and mix thoroughly to combine1 large egg
- Sprinkle the flour over the top of the mixture, and mix carefully until combined. Be careful not to overmix1.6 grams all-purpose flour
- Add the batter to the prepared cake pans on the baking sheet, being careful not to fill more than halfway (this prevents the cake from over rising and forming a muffin top). Sprinkle sea salt, if desiredflaky sea salt
- Bake in the center of the oven until the middle of the cake is just a bit jiggly, about 16 minutes. It's better to check it than to overbake it. The cake may have cracked, and that's OK, and it will fall as it cools, so there's no harm
- Cool on the cooling rack until the bottom of the pan is cool to the touch and transfer to a plate. When completely cool, cover with plastic and let sit overnight before eating
- To serve, top with barely sweetened whipped cream and/or some berries