Sunday, December 5, 2010

Molten Chocolate Babycakes

Molten Chocolate Babycakes - made December 2, 2010 from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson (book #17)

I’d blogged some time ago how I was always asked by my sister for lava cake as a dessert and I’ve tried different recipes each time as I didn’t feel like I’d found a good one yet.  Some were too rich, some didn’t bake properly, some were “just okay” in taste or texture.  Thanks to Nigella Lawson, I might’ve found a keeper.  This one is rich but has good flavor and texture and is perfect in small doses, complemented by vanilla ice cream.  It was easy to make and I made it up ahead of time since I needed it for dessert after dinner with friends.  Because it was chilled, rather than relying on baking it longer in the oven as the original recipe recommended (something I’ve tried in the past and, depending on the recipe, ended up overcooking it or not cooking it enough so that the outside was done but the inside was still cold batter!), I actually put each ramekin in the microwave for 20 seconds to take the chill off before I put them into the preheated oven.  That seemed to work pretty well.  They weren’t quite molten so I probably left them in the oven a minute too long but were still soft and good, especially when topped with vanilla ice cream.  I would advise making this in small ramekins and cutting the baking time by 3-4 minutes, depending on the size of your ramekins.

And of course, what’s always critical in any recipe with such a high proportion of chocolate is to use the good stuff.  I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao for this one and they turned out pretty well.  I imagine they would be even better with Lindt or Valrhona at a higher cacao content.  If you’re having people over for dinner and/or dessert, this is a perfect make-ahead dessert with little fuss.  You can make the batter a day or two ahead and keep them chilled and covered already in their ramekins. The original recipe calls for upending the cakes and plating them when they come out of the oven but I rely on serving in the ramekins topped with ice cream.  The less a warm chocolate cake is handled, the better.  Let yourself or your guests enjoy plunging that spoon through the ice cream to get down to the warm, molten cake.  I’ve never had anyone complain that they had to eat out of the ramekin than on a dessert plate.

Scant ¼ cup soft unsalted butter plus more for greasing
12 ounces best bittersweet chocolate
½ cup sugar
4 large eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 individual 6-ounce custard cups, buttered

1.       Unless you are making these up in advance, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2.       Melt the chocolate and let it cool slightly.  Cream together the butter and sugar, and gradually beat in the eggs and salt, then the vanilla.  Add the flour, and when all is smoothly combined, scrape in the cooled chocolate, blending it to a smooth batter.
3.       Divide the batter between the 6 custard cups, arrange on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven.  Cook for 10-12 minutes.  Let cool slightly then top with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6

ETA: I don't know why my pics are coming out so dark.  I switched to a new camera that focuses on closeups better and I take the pics with as much light as possible and they come out all right on my computer but when I upload to my blog, they become darker.  Huh.

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