This is a recipe we teach in our cooking school. We use Japanese butane burners to prepare the stove-top or we cook them over live-fire on the beach. Coquettes are small individual-sized cast-iron pots.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

½ cup water

1 teaspoon espresso powder

½ cup sour cream

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • Author: Kirsten Dixon & Mandy Dixon


Prepare six small individual coquettes by greasing them with butter. Prepare one six-quart cast-iron casserole by placing a trivet into the bottom of the pan. Add in one and a half inches of water to the pan.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda into a medium bowl, then whisk in the salt. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs until slightly lightened, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the water, espresso powder, sour cream, butter, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and whisk gently until just combined.

Pour in enough batter to reach about half-way up the casserole of one of the coquettes. Place the lid onto the six-quart cast-iron casserole. Repeat with remaining coquettes. A six-inch cast-iron casserole will hold 4 five-ounce coquettes.

Bring the liquid in the casserole to a simmer. Steam the cake for 13 minutes over medium heat or until a toothpick is dry when inserted into the center of the cake. Let the cake cool and remove it from the coquette.

Makes 6 small cakes.