The Good: Ode to Jean-George's Chocolate Molten Cake
The Bad: Domino's Lava Crunch Crapcakes
Despite the occasional subpar specimen (Domino, I’m looking at you), my love of warm chocolate cake continues to run deep. So deep, in fact, that up until yesterday, I’d made a promise to myself that consumption of these cakes would remain an out-to-dinner treat ONLY, never to be attempted at home.
Don’t get me wrong - I love to bake, but somehow I loose all impulse control once I pass through my front door. Maybe you know how it goes: you make one batch of homemade cookies thinking, “I’ll just have one and bring the rest to work” and soon you’re on the couch, you’ve inhaled nine cookies, and you’re contemplating finishing off three more to make it an even dozen because they’re just so good when they’re warm and then you won’t have to share the leftovers with your roommates (or co-workers).
Heaven knows what might’ve happened if I’d ever tried my hand at full-on chocolate cakes.
Then I had a sad realization: how could I call myself a true aficionado if I hadn’t tried making these delectable cakes myself? It had to be done, if only for the sake of food research. (It had to be done!). So, for a recent dinner party, I decided to make an exception to my out-to-dinner-only rule and whip up a batch of Warm, Soft Chocolate Cakes.
This recipe is based on one I got from Eli Zabar, the Upper East Side gourmet food market here in NYC. I've tweaked it to reflect things-I-wish-I’d-done (i.e. to dust the ramekins with cocoa instead of flour to avoid the pasty pallor they have in the picture).
They may not be pretty (I’ll leave that artistry to Jean-Georges), but these cakes were still mmm mmm delicious. A perfect way to celebrate love, chocolate, or just the love of chocolate this weekend, or any time of the year.
Warm, Soft Chocolate Cakes
Yield: 4 individual cakes
1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus a bit more to butter the molds
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons flour
Cocoa powder for dusting ramekins
4 small ramekins (I used 5.5-ounce round ones – they suggest 4oz heart shaped.)
- Preheat the oven to 450F.
- Heat butter and chocolate together in a double boiler 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 think.
- Beat together the melted chocolate and butter; it should be quite warm, but not so hot that you’ll scramble the egg in the next step!
- Pour in the egg mixture, then quickly beat in the flour, just until combined.
- Butter and lightly dust four 4-ounce ramekins with cocoa. Tap out the excess cocoa. Divide the batter among the molds. *At this point, you can refrigerate the desserts until you are ready to eat for up to several hours; bring them back to room temperature before baking. (This part is extremely important. Cold batter/ramekins don’t bake the same. Trust me.)
- Bake the molds on a tray for 6 to 8 minutes; the center will still be quite soft, but the sides should be set.
- 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. (If it doesn’t pop out easily, they may need to go back the oven for a minute.)
- Serve immediately with the topping of your choice: whipped cream, berries, vanilla bean ice cream, or all three!
Happy Ugly Valentine's Day!