These Chocolate Mini Cakes with Marshmallow Filling are everything you remember from the classic childhood treat. Two layers of rich chocolate cake are filled with a fluffy marshmallow cream, and finished with a sweet chocolate ganache shell.
Reimagined Ding Dongs – Small Batch
Let’s address the elephant in the room first. This recipe draws inspiration from one of my childhood favorite treats – the Hostess Ding Dong. Is it the chocolate cake? The cream filling? The waxy chocolate shell? Or is it just the combination of all three that left me wanting to eat the entire box?
But at my age, my metabolism can’t take eating a whole box of Ding Dongs. So, I decided to make my own homemade magical chocolate cakes. Not that the caloric intake is any different. It’s more of a reward for figuring out how to take all the best parts of the original and make it my own.
The difference between the classic and this recipe:
- Chocolate cake – The cake in this recipe is full of chocolate flavor, stays moist with the help of sour cream, and is homemade so we know all of the ingredients going into it.
- Marshmallow filling – The filling in the original is more of a vanilla cream. In this recipe, we are using my Marshmallow Frosting recipe. Still light, fluffy, and flavored with vanilla. And it stays fluffy even when sandwiched between two cake layers.
- Chocolate coating – I honestly don’t know how Hostess makes their magical chocolate shell. In my best attempt to replicate it, we are making a ganache and adding some coconut oil and corn syrup to help it firm and stay shiny. And no, it is NOT high fructose corn syrup in this recipe.
- Small batch – To stay on brand, this recipe starts with a small batch sheet cake and we cut it into pieces to make the mini cake sandwiches.
Best of all, you can get fancy with how you cut it and make the mini cakes holiday specific. In this case – Valentine’s Day!
Creative Valentine’s Day Dessert for Two
Cookie cutters can be a baker’s best friend. Especially when wanting to make a treat that symbolizes a holiday. The Christmas tree, ghost, pumpkin – and of course a heart for Valentine’s Day.
I mean, I can’t free-hand cut a heart out of cake.
Not only are we using a heart shaped cookie cutter in this recipe (or any size/shape cookie cutter you like), the Chocolate Mini Cakes with Marshmallow Filling embody all of the flavors you think of in a Valentine’s Day dessert:
- More chocolate
And the delivery of all of these flavors into a cute little heart shaped mini cake epitomizes the greeting card holiday!
What You Need To Make Mini Marshmallow Filled Cakes
- All-purpose flour – I’ve only tested the recipe wit AP flour.
- Unsweetened cocoa – I use Dutch process for this recipe.
- Baking powder and soda – I use both to help the cake rise and balance the added acidity of the sour cream.
- Salt – Balances all the flavors.
- Granulated sugar
- Canola oil – Any neutral oil will work. I prefer canola oil because I find it doesn’t leave an oil taste.
- Sour cream – To make the cake moist!
- Egg – One whole large egg.
- Vanilla extract
- Hot coffee – The coffee complements the cocoa flavor and the hot blooms the cocoa and tenderizes the cake.
- Egg white – Real egg whites that are free of any oil or yolk. Otherwise it won’t beat properly!
- Granulated sugar
- Corn syrup – Adds gloss to the marshmallow.
- Cream of tartar – Helps stabilize the egg white so it beats to stiff peaks.
- Vanilla extract
Chocolate Ganache Ingredients
- Chocolate – I’m learning to appreciate chocolate baking bars because they melt smoothly and don’t have extra ingredients. However, if all you have are chocolate chips, use them!
- Coconut oil – Aids in setting the ganache firm – to get the hard coating.
- Corn syrup – For a glossy finish.
- Vanilla extract
- Heavy cream – I can only recommend cream to make the ganache thick and creamy.
- Quarter size baking sheet – This is the one I use. If you don’t have one, you can use a 6-Inch round or square cake pan. You will just need to slice the cake into two layers to get enough to make the mini cakes. You will also need to adjust the baking time – start checking the cake at 20 minutes.
- Cooling rack – Dual purpose on this one. To cool the cake, and to use to pour the chocolate on the cakes. Set the cooling rack in a baking sheet – this allows the chocolate to drip down the cake and catches the drips.
- Double-boiler – A small saucepan with a heat-proof mixing bowl large enough to set on top of the saucepan without touching the water.
- Digital thermometer
- Hand held mixer – With whisk attachments.
- Cookie cutter(s) – I used a heart shaped cutter. You can use any shape/size you like.
Tips For Making Chocolate Mini Cakes with Marshmallow Filling
- Plan ahead – Get all of the ingredients and equipment ready. This is not a difficult recipe but because there are 3 components to the recipe, it makes baking a lot easier to have everything ready.
- Watch the cake – Baking a sheet cake does not take as long as baking in a cake pan. The cake is thinner, therefore will bake faster. The cake is done once it is springy to the touch, starts to pull away from the pan. Of course, you can test it with a toothpick inserted in the middle and it comes out mostly clean. High altitude bakers – check the cake early as it may not take as long to bake at higher altitudes. Mine was done at 10 minutes.
- Use a digital thermometer – To make the marshmallow and heat to a temperature to make the egg white safe to consume (160F degrees). I highly recommend one as a staple in your kitchen if you bake often.
- Cooling rack + baking sheet – When you are ready to coat the cakes with chocolate, set the cooling rack in a baking sheet with sides. This allows the chocolate to drip all the way down the cakes and the baking sheet catches the drips.
- Refrigerate the finished cakes – To allow the ganache to set and harden. I kept the leftover cakes in the fridge as well (in a covered container or loosely covered on a plate with plastic wrap).
- Use sprinkles – If this is a Valentine’s Day dessert, dress up the mini cakes with some fun sprinkles!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
More Valentine’s Day Desserts For Two
- No-Bake Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake
- Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
- Chocolate Pots de Creme For Two
- Chocolate Chia Pudding and Pomegranate Parfaits
- Snow Day Cake (Almond Cardamom and Coconut)
- Small Batch Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Mini Cakes with Marshmallow Filling
- Hand Held Mixer with Whisk Attachments
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons canola oil - or any neutral oil
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 large egg - room temperature
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch process
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup medium brew coffee, very hot - very hot
- 1 large egg white, room temperature - room temperature
- 1 tablespoon water - room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Ganache Coating
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate - chips or baking bar
- 2 teaspoons cold pressed refined coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the sugar and canola oil. Whisk together until mixed. Add the sour cream, egg, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth and creamy.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt over the top of the wet ingredients. Use a spatula to gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no dry streaks remain. Note – I recommend sifting the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients to make sure there are no lumps. You can set a fine mesh strainer over the top of the bowl with the wet ingredients to sift all of the dry ingredients.
- Add half of the hot coffee to the batter and mix until just incorporated. Then add the remainder of the hot coffee and mix the batter until smooth.
- Pour the batter evenly into the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes – until the cake is springy when touched with your fingertip, and the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the baking sheet.
- Cool the cake in the pan set on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then, invert the cake onto to the cooling rack and gently remove the parchment paper (if it stuck to the cake). Cool the cake completely before cutting and assembling.
- When the cakes are cool and you are ready to assemble the cakes, make the filling.
- Simmer about 2-inches of water in a saucepan. In a heat-proof mixing bowl large enough to fit on top of the saucepan – without touching the water – add the egg white, water, corn syrup, granulated sugar, and cream of tartar. Set the bowl on top of the saucepan and attach a thermometer to the side of the bowl (recommended – see notes).
- Using one of the whisk attachments as your whisk, constantly whisk the mixture until foamy and white. We want the sugar to dissolve and the temperature of the mixture to reach 160F degrees. This may take up to 4 minutes. If you don't have a thermometer, you can test if the sugar has dissolved by carefully rubbing a little of the egg white between your thumb and index finger – if done, you will not feel sugar granules.
- Remove the bowl from the heat, and add the vanilla extract. Using a hand-held mixer with whisk attachments, beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form, and the frosting is pillowy and glossy. This may take about 2 and 1/2 minutes.
- The frosting is ready to be used immediately. If storing, place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Longer than that, the frosting may start to loosen and separate. I do not recommend keeping the frosting at room temperature for longer than 4 hours.
Assembling the Cakes
- Use a knife or cookie cutter (size and shape of your choice) to cut out 8 pieces of cake. Note – the number of mini cakes you get from the sheet cake will depend on the size and shape of your cuts/cookie cutter. You will have cake scraps that you can freeze (wrap tightly and put in a ziploc), make into cake pops, or just eat!
- Spread an even amount of marshmallow filling evenly onto 4 pieces of cake and top with the remaining cake pieces. Put the assembled cakes on a baking sheet and refrigerate while you make the chocolate ganache.
Chocolate Ganache Coating
- In a liquid measuring cup, add the chocolate, coconut oil, corn syrup and vanilla extract. Using a measuring cup will make it easier to pour the ganache over the cakes.
- In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream until bubbles start to form along the sides of the pan. Note – You can also heat the cream in the microwave – I recommend 15 second increments until it is hot and steamy. You don't want it to full on boil.
- Pour the heated cream over the chocolate chips. Let the mixture sit for 2-3 minutes to start to melt the chocolate. Then stir until the chocolate is smooth and silky.
Coating the Cakes
- Remove the assembled cakes from the refrigerator. To coat the mini cakes with the chocolate, I recommend setting a wire rack inside a baking sheet with sides. This will allow the chocolate to completely drip down the cakes and the baking sheet will catch the drips.
- Coat one cake at a time – Pour a small amount of ganache on top of the cake until it starts to drip down the sides of the cake. Use a small offset spatula to smooth out the ganache on the top and sides of the cake. Pour more ganache on the cake as needed to make sure the sides get completely coated. Keep in mind – you have 4 cakes to coat, so be careful not to use too much ganache on one cake.
- Carefully transfer the assembled cakes to your serving plate (I use the offset spatula to lift them off the wire rack). Refrigerate the cakes for at least 2 hours to allow the ganache to set.
- This a recipe for a small quarter-size sheet cake – You can also use a 6-Inch round or square cake pan and cut the cake into two layers to create the filled mini cakes.
- Coffee – the strength of the coffee is up to you. I use instant coffee granules to make a small cup of hot coffee because it is a little stronger than what I normally drink. However, I do not recommend super strong coffee – it can overpower the cocoa flavor in the cake.
- Watch bake time – whether you live at high altitude, or the fact that all ovens are different, cakes bake differently from oven to oven. High altitude bakers may find it doesn’t take as long to bake something. The cake is done when it is springy to the touch, starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, and the old toothpick in the middle test comes out mostly clean (a few crumbs on the toothpick is ok).
- Cake scraps – You will have cake scraps. You can freeze them (wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in a ziploc bag), make cake pops, or just eat!