Thursday, November 5, 2009

Warm Soft Chocolate Cake

Warm Soft Chocolate Cake - November 5, 2009

I've had two baking failures this week which is a pox on my baking soul. So I decided to try something that looked reasonably fail-safe. Even the title of this recipe is soothing - it has all the right words in it. Warm. Soft. Chocolate. Cake. I have this recipe typed up but I don't know where I got it from because I didn't note it down like I usually do. But it's a version of lava cake and judging by the ingredients and directions, I was reasonably confident it would turn out. And it did.

A few things to note about this recipe. Whipping the eggs until "light and thick" signifies this'll have a light, airy texture so don't expect anything dense. Despite how little flour is in here, this won't have the texture of flourless chocolate cake. Think of how souffles are made - the crap is beaten out of the egg whites to incorporate a lot of air into them that forces the cake to rise high. The downside is what comes up must come down so this cake does shrink after you take it out of the oven and it starts to cool. Also, this recipe uses semisweet chocolate - once again, use the highest quality chocolate you can afford. There are only 5 ingredients in this recipe so if you use inferior chocolate, it'll be very evident. The amount of flour is so small it almost isn't worthwhile to dirty a teaspoon to measure it out.

Overall, this is a pretty good, basic recipe for lava cake. I baked them in the molten chocolate cake pan I mentioned in an earlier post that has the removeable bottoms. But this would probably bake just as well or better in ramekins so you don't have to bother with taking them out, inverting, re-inverting, etc. The cake is fragile since it's mostly beaten air so try not to handle it too much. Despite the amount of eggs in the batter which increase in volume the more you beat them, it's not eggy and it doesn't have a souffle texture. Like the title says, it's warm and soft. I did bake it for 7 minutes like the recipe calls for - the sides were baked and the middles were still jiggly. This wasn't overwhelmingly chocolatey which was nice. It's definitely good to have as a small portion. You want to leave room for the ice cream.

½ cup unsalted butter, plus additional butter to grease molds
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting buttered molds

1. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, heat the butter and chocolate together until the chocolate is almost completely melted. While that’s heating, beat together the eggs, yolks, and sugar with a whisk or electric beater until light and thick.
2. Beat together the melted chocolate and butter, it should be quite warm. Pour in the egg mixture, then quickly beat in the flour, just until combined.
3. Butter and lightly flour four 4-ounce molds, custard cups or ramekins. Tap out the excess flour, then butter and flour them once again. Divide the batter among the molds. (At this point you can refrigerate the desserts until you are ready to eat, up to several hours. Bring cakes back to room temperature before baking.)
4. Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Bake the molds on a baking tray for 6 to 7 minutes, the center will still be quite soft but the sides will be set.
5. Invert each mold onto a plate and let sit for about 10 seconds. Unmold by lifting up one corner of the mold; the cake will fall out onto the plate. Serve immediately with a scoop of caramel or vanilla ice cream.

Makes 4 individual cakes

ETA: I found the original copy I had of this recipe and it notes that it was adapted from Jean-Georges, Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman

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