February 12, 2018

Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes

I have a week of chocolate planned ahead, guys. Food Science Club has our annual chocolate dipping social on Wednesday, where we get to dip approximately 20 pounds of various snack foods and fruits in chocolate under the guise of student involvement. I also have a competition for passionfruit confections on Thursday, which means making all sorts of caramels and ganaches and covering them in chocolate beforehand. However, I understand that not everyone has access to vats of molten chocolate and absolutely no self control, as fun as that would make all of your Valentine's Days. In that unfortunate case, I propose an alternative: individual chocolate cakes. You can have one like a stable adult human, share two with your Valentine, or eat the entire batch alone while watching Netflix with your cat because, hey, at least you proved to yourself and your ungrateful ex that you can, in fact, bake things without burning down the house. Whatever floats your boat, man.

Honestly, one of the reasons I love this recipe so much is because of the pan. I had a treat yoself moment with my Hannukah money over winter break and decided to buy a good NordicWare cake pan, but instead of buying a big fancy bundt cake pan like a normal person, I bought one for teeny tiny mini cakes. I soon realized the cakes weren't nearly as teeny as I thought they were; one cake is a very generous serving for one, or maybe 2 depending on how hangry you are. If you don't have a mini bundt cake pan, these would make great mini loaves, or a regular cupcake pan would do in a pinch.

Looking at the ingredients list, you might be a little surprised if you're familiar with my other baking recipes. There's no buttermilk. It's either a sin or a misprint, right? Wrong. Here, sour cream maintains the acidity and moistness just as well as buttermilk ever could. Also different from my other chocolate cake recipes? I use actual butter instead of oil, but it's melted so you don't have to go through the whole softening and creaming process that honestly takes way too long in my opinion. I just want some cake; don't make me wait all day for it.

I combine the dry ingredients first: flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. There's plenty of cocoa here, and make sure you use the good stuff because that's the main thing you'll be tasting. I'm not getting paid to say this, but I will admit I do prefer Ghiradelli or Hershey's over Nestle. Once those are combined, I whisk the butter and sugar together. This is a pleasantly dense cake, so there's no need to cream them together and whip a bunch of air in. I also add eggs and a nice splash of vanilla. As with most of my cake recipes, I alternate the wet and dry ingredients to prevent lumps and avoid overbeating the flour. The dry ingredients are the flour mixture from before, and the wet ingredients are sour cream (again, for acidity and moistness) and coffee (for a subtle flavor that really brings out the cocoa).

Once the batter is just combined, I spoon it into my pan. I never make bundt cakes because I'm always terrified the cake will stick and fall apart and implode and make everyone sad. To combat this, I got a really good pan (and treat it properly, i.e. no dishwasher) and greased it well with a baking spray. I normally give it a spritz of original nonstick spray and get on with the baking, but here I use the special baking nonstick spray. It has flour in it that does a fabulous job of making things not stick to the pan, and I haven't had any sticking issues yet. I make sure to fill the pan most of the way up, leaving some space for it to rise. The toothpick test does the job just fine to indicate when it's done; as soon as a toothpick comes out clean, you're ready to go.

As you can see from all these lovely pictures, I garnished the cakes with a dusting of powdered sugar and some fresh berries. If you go the powdered sugar route, make sure you do it just before serving so that it doesn't absorb moisture and become all pasty. A velvety chocolate ganache would also be fantastic, and you can add a splash of your favorite liquor for extra flavor. I had some strawberry sauce leftover from a cheesecake, which paired beautifully as well. As long as it goes with chocolate, it can go on this cake. I might have to bring some to my chocolate dipping social this week because nothing goes better with chocolate than more chocolate.

1 1/2 Cups Flour
3/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 Sticks Butter, Melted
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
2 Eggs
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
3/4 Cup Sour Cream
3/4 Cup Coffee, Cooled

Heat oven to 350F and grease 10 mini bundt cake pans.

Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Combine the sour cream and coffee.

Whisk the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the coffee mixture in 2 additions.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pans (~2/3 cup per pan) and bake for 16 minutes or until cooked through.

Serves 10

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