It has been a disgracefully long time since I’ve posted anything, but this has been an insane semester, and anyway today I have brought you a recipe for dense, luscious mini-chocolate cakes of joy.

This recipe for bouchons is originally from Portland’s Pearl Bakery. I’ve always wanted to visit Portland, but just because I can’t manage that any time soon doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy some chocolate-y goodies from there.

From the little bit of internet research I’ve done on bouchons, they’re usually made in smaller, thinner molds (I’ve seen recommendations for timbale or mini-popover molds), but if you don’t have a lot of fancy baking molds (I don’t!) then a muffin tin will do perfectly well. Unlike muffins or cupcakes, these little cakes don’t have any leavening agents (baking powder, etc.) which makes them quite dense. This is in no way a bad thing. They come out of the oven when they are still slightly underdone in the center, which gives them a moist and tender texture. They are wonderful with a strong cup of coffee for an afternoon snack. 

That slightly underdone center is also, importantly, what saves these cakes from being dry. The first time I made these was over a year ago, when I was working with a different stove that was a fire-breathing monster (literally: once a jet of flame shot out of the knob for a burner my roommate had just turned on. Luckily he didn’t lose any eyebrows in the process). After suspecting for a long time that the oven was heating at a much higher temperature than I was instructing it to, I finally broke down and bought an oven thermometer to discover that yes, it was indeed getting hotter than I wanted it to, generally around 75-100 degrees hotter. Which explains why I was a little let down by these the first time I baked them: they were most certainly overbaked in that fiery furnace. The moral of this story is that if you are serious about baking, it is well worth it to buy an oven thermometer; and also, don’t overbake these bouchons.

Bouchons au chocolat

Other than not overbaking, one step to take particular care with here is creaming the butter and sugar. By beating the full amount of time it takes to make the butter light and fluffy, you are incorporating air into the butter. Since there’s no leavening agents in these cakes, that little bit of air is important. On a different note, the original recipe calls for mini-chocolate chips, but since the only mini ones I’ve seen are not great quality, I used normal sized Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips here, and chopped them up a bit (er, made Mark chop them). You could just use normal sized chocolate chips (unless you also have a nice s/o to boss around!), or if you want to be super-fancy, you could chop up the same quantity from a block of bittersweet chocolate. Finally, the original recipe calls for unsalted butter, but I only had salted around, so that’s what I used, and omitted the pinch of salt. Either way, a little bit of salt makes richly chocolate things even better.

Makes 12-14 bouchons


3 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used 70%)
3 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 lb. (2 sticks; 230 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup (250 grams) sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 3/4 cup (245 grams) cake flour
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup (90 grams) miniature chocolate chips (see note)


Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Butter a 12-cup muffin pan.

In a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt the bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate together. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir the chocolate frequently until fully melted.

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the melted chocolate, and mix until fully incorporated.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, and salt. Use a spatula to stir and fold the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture in three additions. After the final addition, stir just until the flour is fully incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Fill each muffin cup with batter and bake 15-18 minutes. The cakes should still feel quite soft in the center when lightly pressed with a fingertip. Again, don’t overbake.

Remove the pan from the oven, and allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then remove the cakes from the pan.

These are at their best the day they are made, but if you store them in an airtight container, they will still be good for a few days after. If you heat them briefly in a toaster oven or microwave (about 15 seconds in the latter), they become melty and delicious all over again.

Adapted from David Leibovitz’s The Great Book of Chocolate

2 Comments on “bouchons”

  1. Caolan says:

    What kind of oven thermometer do you have? After making my tenth overcooked baked treat I have realized there is probably no relationship between my oven temperature and what it says on the knob!

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