For those who believe chocolate is best consumed in a warm state of melting, gooey oblivion, look no farther than 31-year-old Autumn Martin’s adorable Ballard dessert cafe. This is where Martin, former head chocolatier at Theo Chocolate, bakes her miniature Mason-jarred molten hot chocolate cakes to order and serves them up with Bluebird ice cream. It’s where ordering a sandwich means sinking your teeth into warm dark chocolate and caramel grilled between pieces of squishy potato bread, and milkshakes have graduated into adulthood with boozy concoctions such as tequila and jalapeño or smoked chocolate and Scotch, using Martin’s signature organic chocolate chips she smokes over alderwood for five hours.
The wispy, almost elfin Martin, who studied ceramics and glassblowing before turning to culinary school, remembers the moment, while working as pastry chef at Canlis, when she knew chocolate would become her life. “It was when I found out that chocolate really was the seed of a fruit from a tree in the tropics,” Martin recalls. “I had never made the connection that chocolate was an agricultural product—and I discovered that I could sculpt it, I could create my art, I could grow my passion for farming and I could help people—all through one medium.”
Now that Hot Cakes is off the ground, Martin is looking forward to the publication of her highly anticipated milkshake cookbook in April—proving that she can also turn a cold dessert into the hottest thing in town.