Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery

Derrick Lin


Agency: Creative Retail Packaging, Inc.
Designer: Cole Johnston // Creative Director
Client: Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery
Photography by annie b/stills
Country: United States

Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery crafts organic, classic American comfort desserts and other original and innovative confections. Founded in 2008 by Autumn Martin, award winning Pastry Chef for Canlis Restaurant and Head Chocolatier for Theo Chocolate, the restaurant is named after its signature product: “take ‘n bake molten chocolate cakes.”

After five years of slowly building up the Hot Cakes brand, Martin found herself in a position to reassess her brand strategy. The company’s maturing status as a premium and well-respected brand in the specialty dessert industry warranted a refresh of both the packaging and in-store experience. Built upon her passion for chocolate, the outdoors, and love for her Northwest roots, the brand is earthy, yet high-end – aspects that Martin wanted to carry forward into the next phase of design.

Martin partnered with Creative Retail Packaging ( to help strengthen her brand presence and awareness through her packaging, marketing collateral, and new storefront design. Collaborating closely with Martin, CRP delivered a full brand architecture system for Hot Cakes that features a consistent “sash” element inspired by the newsboy’s messenger bag from the brand’s original identity. The holding device allows each product line to utilize bold and engaging patterns to differentiate between the brand’s several product lines. This design element extends also to collateral pieces such as her frozen milkshake cart, Molten Chocolate Cake Field Guide, and business cards.

The primarily cherry red, dark chocolate, and whipped cream color palette pairs with classic gingham patterning as the signature design elements for the Hot Cakes brand. They can be found accenting the walls and fixtures of the company’s storefront, as well as the signature molten chocolate cake packaging. For products such as confections, where the product would not be viewable through the packaging, unique patterns were created to graphically correlate with the delectable treats inside. The herringbone pattern on the sauces abstractly represents a geometric approach to the fluidity of the product form; whereas the tree pattern for the “N.W. Inspired” line speaks to the smoky flavor profiles and campfire inspired applications.

Inspired by her roots as a Girl Scout, Martin’s iconographic elements emulate vintage scouting handbooks. The hand-done illustration style is used in tandem with detailed instructional information in the Molten Chocolate Cake Field Guide, while merit badge inspired iconography is used when communicating more generic information such as product contents on the S’mores Kit.

Martin’s ultimate intention was for Hot Cakes to be “the high-end, organic, earthy northwest confections brand that people admire for its beauty first, and are pleasantly surprised when they discover the quality of flavor,” she recounts. “CRP has listened intently to my aesthetic design goals, and together we have gone down many paths where ultimately, they were able to harmoniously unite ‘earthy’ and ‘high end’ into a brand that guests respond to in the way I set out to do.”

Whether experiencing Hot Cakes’ desserts for the first time in the original Seattle storefront, at a music festival, or on the grocery store shelf, Hot Cakes’ new brand direction strives to deliver on its simple mission: to “be honest, stay true.”