Molten Chocolate Cakes
Tips: There seem to be two types of these individual,
deeply chocolate desserts. The more common type involves simply
undercooking a batter, so that when the hot dessert is unmolded
and cut into, the still-fluid inside seeps out. I developed a recipe
for that type of cake, but then I decided I like the second type
better, where a truffle is placed into the middle of a cake as it
bakes. When this dessert is unmolded and cut into, melted trufflehot,
smooth, shiny, and intensely chocolateseeps out. To make this,
you'll need six individual ramekins, each of a 9 ounce capacity.
Mine are white porcelain and measure 4-1/4 inches in diameter by
2 inches in height.
These cakes are very rich and rather large; if two people are on
good terms and have eaten a normal dinner, one cake might be enough
for both. Otherwise, eat vegetables for dinner and have one of these
by yourself! It's important to use good quality chocolate here.
Bittersweet chocolate varies in sweetness; if you like things very
dark, you can use 7 ounces of bittersweet and 1 ounce of unsweetened
chocolate here. Please serve these with whipped cream, as you'll
need something to cut through the intense richness of the dessert.
Nice for a special meal. Take note that these are served hot, but
it is critical that they stand for a few minutes after being removed
from the oven. They can also be made ahead and reheated in the microwave,
however (see Note at end of recipe).
- 2 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
- Few grains salt
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into thin pats
- 1 to 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, alkalized OR nonalkalized
- 8 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 10 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 5 eggs, graded "large", separated (yolks and whites
should both be at room temperature)
- 1/4 cup sifted cake flour
- 1 Tbsp. orange liqueur
- 1 Tbsp. coffee liqueur
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Lightly sweetened whipped cream
Make the truffle centers first, as they must be frozen when they're
used. In small heatproof bowl, combine chocolate, heavy cream, and
salt. Set over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch
bottom of bowl); stir often just until melted and smooth. Remove
from heat and hot water. Add butter pats; stir in until melted.
Pour mixture into a shallow plate or bowl (I use a salad plate with
a flat well about 6 inches in diameter in the center). Chill briefly,
then set plate flat in freezer until very cold.
Place cocoa powder onto small plate or piece of wax paper. Line
a flat plate about 7 inches in diameter with a round of wax paper.
Remove truffle mixture from freezer. With tip of sharp knife, score
into 6 equal portions. Using a teaspoon, scrape up one portion,
then scrape off into the cocoa powder with another teaspoon. Roll
gently to coat, then quickly work into a flattish round about 2
inches in diameterdon't worry about getting the size or shape
exactand place patty on the wax-paper-lined plate. Keep your
hands dusted with cocoa powder, and be aware that the truffle mixture
will still be a bit sticky even when frozen. When all six portions
are shaped, replace the wax-paper-lined plate in the freezer. If
you're not going to complete the recipe for a while, cover the truffle
patties with another piece of wax paper, then cover the dish tightly
with plastic wrap.
To make the cakes, butter the bottom and sides of each ramekin;
place prepared ramekins on a foil-lined baking sheet (trust me on
lining the baking sheet with foilif you spill any batter,
it's much easier to clean up that way). Set aside.
In large heatproof bowl, combine chopped chocolate and butter.
Set over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom
of bowl); stir often until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and
hot water. Set aside to cool until chocolate is just slightly warm;
gently whisking occasionally.
When chocolate mixture is only slightly warm, preheat oven to 375
degrees F; adjust rack to center of oven. Using a fork, beat egg
yolks to blend; gradually add yolks to chocolate mixture, whisking
then in gently (chocolate mixture will thicken slightly with addition
of yolks). Be sure to scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber
spatula frequently throughout mixing process. Add sifted cake flour
and whisk in. Add liqueur 1 tablespoon at a time, then add vanilla,
whisking in after each addition. Set aside briefly.
Place egg whites in medium nonplastic bowl. Add salt;
sift in cream of tartar. Using a hand-held electric mixer or a whisk,
beat at high speed until white, very foamy, and at least doubled
in volume. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat at high speed
until the meringue almost achieves stiff peak stage (you don't want
to beat it quite to stiff peaks, but if you do it probably won't
be a tragedy).
Whisk the chocolate mixture briskly to loosen it; it should be
no warmer than room temperature and will thicken as it cools. Add
a large spoonful of the beaten whites and whisk in briskly to lighten.
In three additions, add remaining meringue to chocolate mixture.
Don't fold in first two additions too thoroughly, but make sure
the last addition is completely folded in and that the batter is
a uniform color.
Divide batter evenly among prepared ramekins; each will be about
three-fourths filled or a bit more. Place baking sheet with filled
ramekins into preheated oven and close oven door. Bake 8 minutes.
When the 8 minutes are almost up, remove truffle patties from freezer;
remove any wrappings on top of the patties. After 8 minutes of baking,
open oven door. Working quickly, place one truffle patty at a time
onto the center top of each cake; with a toothpick or teaspoon handle,
push just below the surface. A top crust may have formed on top
of the cakes that this process will disruptdon't worry about
that, as you'll serve the cakes upside down. You want the still-liquid
batter on the inside to cover the truffle patties. Once you have
pushed in all 6 truffle patties, turn the baking sheet back-to-front.
Re-close oven door.
Bake 8 minutes longer. Reach into oven; again turn baking sheet
back-to-front. Re-close oven door. Bake 3 to 4 minutes longer (total
baking time is 19 to 20 minutes). When done, cakes will have risen
slightly above the edges of the ramekins, especially in the centers,
but the centers will still appear uncooked if the ramekins are gently
tapped. Do not overbake!
Remove baking sheet to cooling rack. Allow cakes to stand at least
5 full minutesno cheating here, as the standing time firms
up the cakes enough to allow you to unmold them in one piece (theoretically,
anyway). The cakes may start to deflate slightly during this standing
timeOK. To unmold, use a small, sharp, serrated knife to loosen
the cake from the sides of the ramekin. Carefully, using potholders
(the ramekins are hot!), invert a dessert plate with shallow sides
onto the top of a ramekin, then, holding both together, invert the
ramekin so it is upside down on top of the right-side-up dessert
plate. Let the ramekin stand for a few seconds, then carefully remove
it. The cake should have come out in one piece. Repeat with remaining
To serve, pass lightly sweetened whipped cream. Cut into the hot
cake, and a pool of melted truffle will flow outdon't burn
Yield: 6 or more servings
Note: To save these for serving up to two days
later, allow to cool to room temperature (as these cool, the centers
will sink and they'll look awfulOK). Chill in refrigerator;
cover tightly when cold. To reheat, remove cover. Microwave at high
power, monitoring carefully, until center of cake has risen and
looks shiny and as though cake center is uncooked (20 to 45 seconds
per cake). Carefully, as ramekin will be hot, remove to heatproof
surface. Run a small, sharp, serrated knife around edges of cake
to loosen from ramekin; turn out and serve as above.
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