I love it when I come across other businesses that are doing almost exactly what I’m doing. I know that probably sounds stupid as you think they would be direct competition - which in a sense I guess they are. But, I think the organic community goes a little deeper than that. My dream would be that ALL businesses care about the ingredients they use, the environment and their carbon footprint. But, that is definitely not the case. So, when I find others that are passionate about the same values that we are here at Dessert’D, I can’t help but want to support them.
I found Hot Cakes the way anyone finds anything these days - Instagram. A post popped up from them and I saw their constant use of one of my favorite words - organic, and I got interested. There are not a lot of organic restaurants today, let alone bakeries. So, I got to talk with Krista Nelson, their Creative Director to learn more about this Pacific Northwest bakery. She even sent me some of their products to try out - because you know if anyone is baking up organic desserts I want to try them!
Mimi: I love the name, Hot Cakes, it just seems to evoke happiness and makes me feel I need some sort of cake right this second. How did you come up with the name?
Krista: Thank you! We agree! Our namesake dessert, the take & bake molten chocolate cake, was first created for a charity dinner, where molten chocolate cake batter was baked in mason jars. The cakes are literally hot cakes, as they are served right out of the oven - and this is how Autumn came up with the name! The cakes were so well received at this dinner that orders started rolling in right then, and within a month Autumn had a stand at the Ballard Farmers Market.
M: When did Hot Cakes start? And how many locations do you have now?
K: Hot Cakes began in 2008, with our founder Autumn selling our take-n-bake molten chocolate cakes in a mason jar at the local farmers markets. Our first dessert restaurant opened in 2012 in Ballard, and our second location in Capitol Hill in 2015. We also wholesale our organic desserts to shops all around the country and sell them through our website.
M: Is there a specific reason you chose Seattle, Washington to open up Hot Cakes?
K: Autumn is a fourth generation Washingtonian, and grew up just north of Seattle. A lot of her inspiration comes from growing up in the northwest, hence the Smoked Chocolate and Wilderness Collection. Seattle is Autumn’s home and she would not have considered any other place to start her first business.
M: How many employees do you have now?
M: What are you known for? What is a must try if people stop into your bakery?
K: Our Dark Decadence Molten Chocolate Cake. It's the same cake as our original take & bake, and we serve it in our restaurant with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, house made cacao nib toffee, and our famous dry-burned salted caramel sauce.
M: Do you have a set menu or do you mix it up sometimes?
K: We have a set menu with standards and a seasonal menu that change 3-4 times a year. People would be very angry if we changed all of our menu items with the seasons so we have learned what stays and what we can change out! We love being able to innovate through our seasonal menu changes and truly enjoy working with ingredients from local farmers and producers. In addition to seasonal changes, we always feature a Molten Cake of the month, and a monthly Vegan Milkshake.
M: Tell me about it - we have to have standards here at Dessert’D as well or people get upset!
M: Why are organic ingredients important to you, so much so that you made them a huge part of your business?
K: Organic, thoughtfully sourced ingredients is the backbone of our company. We are dedicated to supporting farmers who dedicate their work to tending soil, and making sure their practices are good for all beings - not just their yield and profit. Keeping the soil clean and nutrient rich, and the animals healthy and happy, is really the only option for us. It's our way of nurturing mother earth and all of her inhabitants.
M: Tell me about these Smoked Chocolate Chips...
K: Autumn grew up camping with her family. Her beloved dad would fish for steelhead in the north fork of the Skykomish River and would often smoke his catch back home. Autumn grew up around the smell of the smoker and, at an early age, fell in love with the flavor and experience of smoked foods. When Autumn became a Pastry Chef, it was clear that she needed to honor her father’s tradition of smoking food in her career - and it was in 2006 she discovered that chocolate was the most delicious. Autumn developed a cold-smoking method that doesn’t alter the consistency of the chocolate at all. We cold-smoke the organic chocolate chips over alder wood for 10 hours... giving this sweet a twist of savory smoke. The chips are amazing in baked goods (s’mores cookie, bread pudding or even elevating regular chocolate chip pancakes), but it also spans savory – think an amazing mole sauce!
M: You mention wilderness preservation a lot, what does that really mean? I’m sure a lot of people don’t know because it’s not a typical buzzword that’s becoming trendy today like organic or fair trade. Can you explain a little more in detail, or how it compliments these things as well?
K: Great question! The wilderness of the PNW has inspired our identity as a company, as well as many of our creations in the kitchen, like our alder-wood smoked chocolate. Forests and protected natural habitats for wild animals and plants are very important to Autumn, and therefore we have dedicated a portion of our desserts as vehicles to help preserve and protect these beings. Our non-profit partners work to defend, protect, and restore wild lands and waters, and they even purchase lands to keep them away from developers. Without this protection, our animal and plant beings would not have a home, neither of which we can live without. And the clean tap water for people would go. We believe that we need balance in wild nature to have balance in our human nature.
M: You have a wilderness collection of products, what does that mean for these special items and how did this line start?
K: Autumn believes that business is an amazing vehicle for helping to make change, and educate people. Our Wilderness Collection is a specific line of desserts (as well as some menu items occasionally) from which we donate a % of sales to our three nonprofit partners: Washington Wild, Washington Trails Association, and Forterra. These are three organizations that work to preserve and protect the wild lands and wildlife in our state. This product line started with the desire to use business for good and to help educate our customers about wildlife and wild place preservation, in an unexpected setting of our dessert restaurant.
M: What does Be Honest Stay True mean to you? (since it’s on your sweatshirt :)
K: Be Honest Stay True is a little nod to the way we make caramel sauce. We produce a “true” caramel, made using a very old technique, called “dry-burning”. You see, “caramel” is technically “caramelized sugar”. Sugar begins to caramelize at 330 degrees F. We make our caramel by caramelizing the sugar first. But, most sauces and chews sold today as “caramel” are made using a method referred to as “one pot method”, where all ingredients are combined in a pot together until a temperature of app. 220 degrees F, where the proteins in the dairy begin to change color and flavor, mimicking the look and taste of caramelized sugar. This protein change is called the “Maillard Reaction”. This product is called caramel, but actually does not possess any caramelized sugar. It is a much quicker, easier way to produce a similar (but we feel inferior) product to caramel, and we consider it a short-cut to the real deal. So, we fondly call our caramel true caramel. Be Honest Stay True came from this desire to educate people about the differences of the two sauces, but also it is a blanket reminder to be our best, always.
M: I LOVE this, as we also make a true caramel at Dessert’D. And, I agree that there are many inferior caramels out there today. Find our Caramel Sauce recipe here. Purchase our Caramel Sauce here. And, purchase Hot Cakes Caramel Sauce here.
So, I created a Fall inspired recipe with Hot Cakes Smoked Chocolate Chips. We have fresh apples right now from Jackie’s tree (one of our bakers). The flavor profile of this muffin is sweet, smokey and salty. This is a perfect snack anytime of day!
Bacon & Smoked Chocolate Chip Apple Muffins
6 slices all natural nitrate and nitrite free bacon, fully cooked to your liking
1 large (or 3 small) organic apples (Gala, Pink Cripps or Fuji)
1/2 cup organic canola oil
113 grams (1/2 cup) organic cane sugar
113 grams (1/2 cup) organic packed dark brown sugar
2 organic large eggs
226 grams (1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons) organic pastry flour (like Arrowhead Mills)
1/4 teaspoon organic cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
170 grams (1 cup) Hot Cakes Organic Smoked Chocolate Chips
Method First, cook the bacon. I like my bacon pretty golden brown and crispy. I prefer cooking mine in a toaster oven or oven, but pan frying would be okay too. If you’re cooking in an oven, bake at 400 for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until crispy. Once the bacon is cooked, remove from cooking vessel and degrease it. Chop it into small pieces, set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin pan with liners.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Grate the apple or apples using a fine grater. I leave the skins on as it gives it more flavor and nutrients. Add the sugar, brown sugar, canola oil and eggs to the apples and mix on low until combined.
In a separate bowl, add the pastry flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and sea salt and whisk together. Then add the chocolate chips and bacon to the flour bowl and stir to coat (this helps so the chocolate chips and bacon don’t sink in the muffins once baking).
Add the flour mixture to the apple mixture and mix on low until combined.
Fill batter with 12 muffins, they will seem full – that’s good! Bake for 17 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
High Altitude – Follow recipe as noted.