This is my favorite chocolate cake to make for small celebrations. It’s really simple to whip up, but it stands nice and tall for an impressive treat. The cake itself is sturdy (especially important for these minis), but still has a fine, moist crumb. We are big chocolate raspberry fans around here so I almost always fill it with raspberry jam, but use whatever floats your boat (peanut butter, nutella, another jam…). I often use up bits and bobs of frosting I have leftover from other baking projects, but if you don’t have anything on hand I highly recommend this ganache. It’s also super easy to make (just requires some time to set up to a frosting consistency), and it’s rich so a little goes a long way.
I typically bake this cake in my 4-inch cake pans. If I’m super lazy, I’ll just split the batter between the two pans (they’ll be about 3/4 full but I haven’t had any problems with overflowing), but usually I’ll bake some off in a little ramekin for a baker’s treat.
Mini Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Ganache
Makes one 6-layer 4-inch cake
For the mini chocolate cake (adapted from Linda Lomelino):
- 100 g unsalted butter
- 1/4 c milk
- 120g AP flour
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 34g dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 157g granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 80g (1/3 c) sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 c hot coffee or espresso
For the strawberry ganache (adapted from The Cake Bible):
- 204g bittersweet chocolate (~53% works best here — I used half milk and half 70%)
- 51g white chocolate
- 139g heavy cream
- 81g strawberry puree
- Simple syrup
- ~1/2 c raspberry preserves or jam
- Fresh berries, for garnish
For the mini chocolate cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line the bottoms of two 4-inch pans (plus an extra ramekin, if desired) with parchment paper, then grease the pans and dust them with cocoa powder.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. When the butter has melted, remove from the heat and whisk in the milk and vanilla. Allow to cool slightly while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Whisk the sour cream into the butter mixture, followed by the egg. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until combined. Add the hot coffee and whisk just until smooth.
- Divide the batter among the pans (I usually put ~275g into each of the cake tins and the rest into the ramekin) and bake for 30-35 minutes (20-25 minutes for the ramekin), or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once the pans are cool enough to handle, run a thin knife around the edges and turn the cakes out to finish cooling completely. For easiest assembly, I prefer to chill the cakes in the fridge before filling and frosting.
For the strawberry ganache:
- Break the chocolate into small pieces and process in a food processor until very fine.
- Heat the cream and strawberry puree in a small saucepan until just before the boiling point.
- With the food processor running, pour the cream mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process for a few seconds until smooth.
- Transfer to a bowl or glass measuring cup and allow to cool at room temperature until ganache reaches a spreadable consistency (this takes me 2-3 hours).
- Level the cakes and cut each into 3 thinner layers for a total of 6 layers.
- Place the first layer of cake on a cake board or serving plate (use a dab of ganache to “glue” it in place) and brush with simple syrup.
- Pipe a ring of ganache around the edge and fill the center with raspberry jam. Continue this process until you’ve used up all the layers.
- Spread a thin layer of ganache over the entire cake to lock in the crumbs, followed by a thicker coat. (My kitchen was on the cold side, so my ganache set pretty quickly and I didn’t need to refrigerate the cake between coats.)
- Garnish with fresh berries and serve at room temperature.