Hot Cakes' Autumn Martin on How to Smoke Chocolate
Autumn Martin has long been enamored with the process, smell and flavor of smoked foods. “My dad smoked salmon and steelhead every year when I was growing up,” says the fourth-generation Pacific Northwesterner.
So it was only natural that the owner of Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery in Ballard ended up smoking chocolate. “It brings me back to my childhood days of camping and reminds me of dripping Northwest forests and meat smoking,” Martin says, “but it also allows me to harness all of that and fit it into my world of pastry and chocolate.”
The alder-smoked chocolate chips lend a subtle flavor to most dishes, bringing savory along with sweet. A handful of chips tossed into moles or chilis ups the woodsy profile while adding a depth of flavor. Martin loves the flavor so much that, during her stint as pastry chef at Canlis, she tried to smoke an orange. Chocolate is better.
Start with alder wood chips…
Why should you try it?: Smoking foods imparts a decadent smoked flavor, evoking open-fire cooking and nights around the campfire without the need to pack up the car and set up camp.
How to make a chocolate smoker: A homemade smoker can be made using two small cardboard boxes (about 6 by 6 by 6 inches) and one cardboard tube from a paper towel roll. Cut a tube-size circular hole in each box and tape each end of the cardboard tube to each circular opening. Heat a handful of alder wood chips (which can be found at most grocery stores, alongside the charcoal) in a pan until they’re smoking, place in one box lined with tin foil. Fill the second box with a tray of chocolate chips—semisweet works well. Close boxes and smoke to taste. Martin recommends at least 30 minutes, depending on how many chocolate chips. You may need to replace the wood chips several times during smoking; monitor the tray and make sure the smoke is consistent and does not wane.
…heat them in a pan until smoking…and add chocolate chips in one box
For the perfect s’more: Combine smoked chocolate with a marshmallow that has been slow-roasted “until it’s drooping off the stick, and then torch it in the flame,” charring the outside.
How does she use it?: Smoked chocolate chips are the foundation of Hot Cakes' original s’mores cookie, and smoked chocolate ganache is used in bite-size truffles and by-the-slice smoked chocolate whiskey cake.
…and smoked wood chips in the other
The boxes are lined with foil and connected with a tube
Close up the boxes and smoke for 30 minutes