Over on Ballard Ave, the nexus of all that is edible right now, Autumn Martin is readying her Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery for its opening. And even her construction detritus is adorable. Old-timey wooden clothes pins, a box of vintage photographs, and scads of diminutive glass jars and bottles are scattered around the dessert shop’s brick-and-wood interior.
Farmers market regulars know Martin and her Hot Cakes brand as purveyors of take-and-bake chocolate cakes that come in wee mason jars, and cookies in killer combinations like salted peanut butter and oatmeal, raisin, and bacon. Now the former head chocolatier at Theo (and before that lead pastry cook at Canlis) is about to give her creations a permanent home. On the menu: her signature cakes with custom toppings, s’more cookies, salted caramel cinnamon rolls, and pocket pies with fillings both sweet and savory.
There will also be booze—think milkshakes made with Laphroaig, smoked chocolate, smoked cocoa powder, and chocolate ice cream. Nonbooze versions come in flavors like blackberry lavender, salted caramel with dark chocolate, or malted vanilla sweet cream. Fend off sugar overload with a grilled cheese or broccoli salad from the small savory menu.
Hot Cakes opens officially on Monday, though if you’re wandering Ballard over the weekend—particularly during the Sunday farmers market—don’t be surprised if some sweets are for sale at the shop. Incidentally, Martin is taking a hiatus of six weeks or so from the farmers markets so all her employees can help the new space get off to a smooth start.
The kitchen, which also serves as the production headquarters for all things Hot Cakes, looks like one of those unrealistically quaint kitchens in movies where female chefs wander around with perfectly coiffed hair and wear lipstick all day. But instead of Catherine Zeta-Jones, Martin has Lucy Damkoehler, whose unofficial title is kitchen manager, and her job duties include staying up late at night with her boss, geeking out about dessert possibilities. The two met years ago, when Martin was at Theo and Damkoehler was at Taste. The doughnuts that made her famous in that job won’t appear at Hot Cakes (there’s no fryer here) but Damkoehler will be making her freaking awesome salted pretzels, along with some sweet dipping sauces (salted caramel, chocolate, jam, and peanut butter milk chocolate sauce).
Once the shop finds its legs, Martin plans to resume her chocolate work, teaching classes and holding events square in the middle of that kitchen. Meanwhile, hit up the slideshow above for more details, a glimpse at the space, the charm, and the smallest lounge in Seattle.