A Little Holiday (or Anyday) Treat
These little cakes are as much fun to make as they are to eat -- and they look terrific. They don't require plates or utensils, and as such are a perfect end to a holiday cocktail party. The spice notes and bittersweet chocolate also pair well with many red wines, particularly reds with high fruit and low tannins. The recipe can be doubled easily. Makes 24, serves 12 (2 cakes each)
For the cakes:
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup cold water
- 5 ounces (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup bourbon or whiskey
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee (we use instant espresso)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
For the glaze:
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray 2 mini-muffin pans (approximately 1 1/2-inch diameter, 12 in each pan) with nonstick cooking spray. Sift together the flour, baking powder, spices and salt. Set aside.
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the water, butter, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, whiskey or bourbon, and coffee, and set over medium heat. Stir until the butter and chocolate have just melted. Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in the sugar. Cool to room temperature and whisk in the egg. Fold in the dry ingredients and mix gently until no lumps remain.
- Fill each muffin cup two-thirds full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool and pop each one out, using a paring knife to gently loosen if necessary.
- In a double boiler, melt together the unsweetened chocolate, semisweet chocolate and butter. Stir until just combined and cool for a few minutes.
- Dip the top of each cake in the glaze, then place on a cooling rack until the chocolate sets. The idea is to have a nice glossy top, without chocolate on the sides, so your guests don't end up with chocolate all over their fingers!