They are a ‘nod’ to the fact that the 14th February is fast approaching and I own a silicone, heart shaped baking tray, purchased a number of years ago, that needs its’ annual outing…
Whether you celebrate St. Valentine’s day or not, these can be baked shaped as hearts, or in a regular mini muffin pan. They are a delightful treat and will win over friends, family or a loved one.
If you are an avid baking fan, you will be familiar with a ‘Bouchon’ – a beautifully light, chocolate cake with chocolate chips developed by the Bouchon Bakery in New York City. The little cakes are cork-like in shape and are baked in a specifically developed ‘Bouchon’ tray. In the past when I have made them, I used my Ikea muffin pan which actually gives the said narrow, cork-like shape (see below). However, there is no need to go out and buy a special tin, I see no reason why you cannot use a mini muffin tin/pan and still achieve these lovely cakes.
So typically, these cakes contain dark chocolate chips. I experimented by adding the salted caramel to this original recipe but actually, I think it is too ‘overloaded’. Second time around I omitted the chocolate chips and added some salted caramel sauce to the centre of the batter. This gives a lovely sweet depth of flavour and a salty after taste which compliments the slightly bitter cocoa powder in the cake (it has a ratio of 50:50 flour to cocoa powder).
The outside of this cake is crispy baked but the centre is slightly moist and a very flavoursome, caramel.I know what you are thinking… Can I bothered to make the caramel sauce? The answer is ‘yes’! It is very quick (in this quantity) and straightforward. The batter requires some resting – a minimum of two hours, or overnight, so you can make the sauce during this time. As a bonus, although this is a small quantity of salted caramel, there will be some left over. You can use this for a host of other things, drizzling on cakes, meringues, ice cream, yoghurt and dare I say, just enjoying a spoonful from the jar when you need a pick-me-up! It lasts in the fridge for a few weeks.
So just to recap, the basics for making these are as follows;
Prepare the batter and let it rest.
- Prepare the salted caramel sauce and chill.
- Select your pan type and prepare accordingly.
- Equally distribute half the batter in the trays.
- Add a teaspoon of salted caramel sauce to the batter.
- Top the sauce with remaining batter.
- Dust with icing.
The last thing you need to do is to enjoy these delicious morsels and share them with a loved one (assuming you are feeling generous?).
Why not celebrate the 14th with something home baked like these?
PS. Friends and neighbours, 1 x heart shaped pan available for loan this week… x
- 50g plain flour
- 50g cocoa powder
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 140g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 160g granulated sugar
- 125g caster sugar
- 25g butter, melted
- 150ml double cream, warmed
- 1 teaspoon course sea salt
- Icing sugar for dusting (optional)
- Sift together the flour and cocoa powder, then add the salt. Mix and set aside.
- Melt half the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Once melted, mix the warm butter with the room temperature butter in a bowl. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar and vanilla paste until very light and pale in colour. Alternating between the butter and flour mixture, add to the egg mixture as the mixer is continually running, in three additions. Once the mixture is fully combined, cover the bowl with food wrap and leave to rest in a cool place (not a fridge) for at least two hours. It can be stored in a fridge overnight but must be bought back to room temperature prior to baking.
- Whilst the batter is resting, prepare the salted caramel.
- Place the sugar in a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat. Allow the sugar to melt and swirl the pan to ensure all the sugar liquefies. Do not stir. After about 5 minutes, once the sugar has melted, it will turn a dark amber colour. At this point, remove from the heat and whisk in the melted butter and warmed cream. Keep whisking until fully combined. Add the salt and whisk further.
- Place a sieve over a heatproof bowl and pour the caramel through the sieve. If you choose, transfer to a sterilised jar. Allow to cool and then cover. Store in the fridge. (As it chills it will become paler in colour and a little firmer).
- Once the batter is rested, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or Gas Mark 4. If using metal mini cupcake/muffin pan, prepare by lightly greasing. If you are using a silicone tray, there is no need for preparation other than to place it on a flat baking tray.
- Spoon, or pipe, half the batter equally in your muffin pan. Add a teaspoon of salted caramel to the centre of each batter cake. Top, in equal measure, with the remaining half of the batter.
- Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan position and shelf half way through the bake. Once the top of the cakes has risen and looks sufficiently baked, these will be ready. It is difficult to test with a cake tester as the centre is meant to be a soft, moist caramel.
- Allow to cool in the tray for approximately 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Dust with icing sugar (optional) and serve. Store in an airtight container.
Source: Cake batter adapted from Thomas Keller & Sebastien Rouxel’s ‘Bouchon Bakery’ and Salted Caramel Sauce quantities adapted from April Carter’s ‘trEATs’.