Delicious and decadent, these Mini Bourbon Dark Chocolate Cakes with Matcha Pistachio Moss are an eerie and whimsical addition to any Halloween Party. You don’t have to choose between tricks or treats with this special dessert!
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Today’s recipe starts with two of my favorite things – chocolate and liquor. A perfectly sophisticated balance of sweet and boozy chocolate cake, bitter matcha, and salty pistachio, Mini Bourbon Dark Chocolate Cakes will look creepy and beautiful – the ideal combination for a Halloween dessert!
These Bourbon Dark Chocolate Cakes may look like they are growing an earie green blanket of moss and lichen, but in fact they are perfectly moist and completely delicious. With a little practical confectionary magic, they are all dressed up for Halloween, with just a sprinkling of matcha powder and crumbled pistachio to simulate decay. Throw in a few deceptively realistic-looking Meringue Mushrooms, and the illusion of a dark forest floor on your dining room table will come to life. It’s a frightening feast fit for anyone with a sweet tooth.
Beware of Dark Fairies
When I was young, my grandmother had a series of books called The Enchanted World. Full of beautiful and terrifying illustrations, I would stay up into the night reading them and perusing the images, scaring myself with the old tales of fantasy and horror. My favorite was the book of fairies. These weren’t the fey folk of Disney stories or children’s books though. These were the terrifying stories of dark fairies – the kind that would disguise themselves to trick young men and women, and terrorize children in their beds. Perhaps because of those books, the prospect of fairies was never one of joy or wonder to me, but instead mischief and fearful respect. As the European legends taught me, you don’t mess with the fey folk.
A Dark Forest Feast
Just as with my recent Creepy Halloween Cheese Board, these Mini Bourbon Dark Chocolate Cakes are part of my Dark Forest Feast theme this year. Think of it as a whimsical take on a typical witch or graveyard theme, but with a focus on moonlit glades, sinister swamps, and the darkest forest caves. I was inspired to think of foods the fey folk might eat – things they might offer to unsuspecting travelers to trap them in the fairy realm. With the inclusion of bourbon, it makes me think these fey might live in the southern bayou, with cakes covered in moss and lichen. But given that they’re magical creatures, they can really eat whatever they want, wherever they want – right?
I also just really loved the idea of painting chocolate onto cakes.
Matcha Pistachio Moss
The Bundt cake recipe for these Mini Bourbon Dark Chocolate Cakes took a number of tries to get right, but what really sets this dessert apart is the application of an edible Matcha Pistachio Moss. Not only do the crushed pistachios and matcha powder add the right color and texture to look the part, they add salty and bitter notes to the sweetness of the chocolate in just the perfect amounts.
Chocolate dries quickly, so the trick is to use a small clean brush to paint on the melted dark chocolate in small amounts, a little at a time. While it’s still wet, sprinkle on a bit of crushed pistachio (pressing some of the larger chunks into the chocolate), and then a little matcha powder. Don’t worry if the matcha powder ends up on your fingers and smudges the cakes as you work – the patches of green powder will fit right in.
Now, I found painting on the chocolate to be rather relaxing, but if it sounds tedious to you, no worries! Just dip the tops or the corners of the cakes into the melted chocolate, and quickly sprinkle with the “moss”. Painting on the chocolate looks a bit more organic, but both are equally delicious.
Surprisingly Realistic Meringue Mushrooms
Meringue mushrooms were a bit of an inspiration. I won’t take credit for the recipe – I meticulously followed these instructions for making meringue mushrooms, dusting the meringue with cocoa powder to give some texture and dimension. This was my first attempt at piping merengue. Since I’m not very impressive with a pastry bag, I was a bit nervous about how they’d turn out. But so far, people go crazy for them! The meringue really does look like mushrooms, and the flavor is just the right amount of sweet without being cloying (My husband describes them as giant Lucky Charm marshmallows).
The techniques for making the moss and mushrooms come from those used in the creation of a Buche de Noel – a traditional French cake that is designed to look like a Yule log for the Christmas holiday season. Many examples I’ve seen are pure beauty, and I couldn’t see restricting the art form to one holiday.
Mini Bourbon Dark Chocolate Cakes with Matcha Pistachio Moss
This Halloween season, surprise your guests with Mini Bourbon Dark Chocolate Cakes covered in Matcha Pistachio Moss, stacked alongside piles of sweet Meringue Mushrooms. You’ll love the excited reactions you get, and your guests will love the amazing flavors.
Mini Bourbon Dark Chocolate Cakes with Matcha Pistachio Moss
Bourbon Dark Chocolate Cake:
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ cup cocoa powder (plus some for dusting the cake molds)
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, chopped into cubes (plus some for greasing the pans)
- ½ lb semi-sweet chocolate bars, chopped fine
- 1 cup bourbon
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
Matcha Pistachio Moss:
- 4 oz dark chocolate melting wafers
- ¼ cup pistachios, shelled and crushed in a mortar & pestle
- 1 Tbsp Matcha powder
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Grease the miniature Bundt pans with butter and dust with cocoa powder. I find using my fingers helps to make sure the butter gets into all the nooks and crannies of the mold.
- Whisk the dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt – together in a large bowl.
- In the top pan of double boiler, melt the butter with the chopped chocolate bars, stirring until smooth. If you do not have a double boiler, you can use a heat-safe bowl set into a sauce pan of simmering water (just be very careful, as the bowl can become hot).
- Transfer the melted chocolate and butter mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in the bourbon and sugar. Beat in the dry ingredients a half a cup at a time until just incorporated. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract.
- Fill the miniature cake molds three-fourths of the way full. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick can be inserted into the cakes and come out clean. Let cool in the molds for 10 minutes, then carefully invert the pans onto racks and remove the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely (at least an hour), or chill overnight, covered in plastic wrap.
To Apply the Moss:
- In intervals of 10-15 seconds, microwave the chocolate wafers in a small, microwave-safe bowl, stirring until smooth. Set up a work station with the bowl of the melted chocolate, a bowl of the crushed pistachios, and a bowl of the Matcha powder. Paint the chocolate onto the cakes with a new, clean brush in small amounts, sprinkling with a layer of crushed pistachio and matcha powder while the chocolate is still wet. Larger chunks of pistachio can be pressed into the chocolate for better sticking powder. Alternatively, you can skip the paint brush and just dip the cakes into the melted chocolate, sprinkling on the “moss” as above.
- Enjoy at room temperature, or heated with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a little added decadence!