Wednesday, February 8, 2023

ChezCindy: Chocolate Lava Cakes

The chocolate lava cake has been an iconic dessert for decades.  It first appeared on the restaurant scene in the late 1990s.  Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is primarily given credit for the creation of the dish.  Some even saying it was the result of an error in the kitchen having underbaked the cake.  Once served, the cake became a popular "mistake" and one of the most popular and copied desserts across the nation.    

The recipe is surprisingly easy and can also be made ahead of time, with the unbaked cakes stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake and serve.  The trick to serving the cake is having confidence in inverting the ramekin to release the cake on to the serving plate.  Be bold.  You can do it.  

Make-ahead Chocolate Lava Cakes
1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 60% cocoa butter
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Butter and lightly flour 4 6-ounce ramekins, placing on a sheet pan.  Set aside.

Working with a double boiler over simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate stirring to combine.  Remove the top pan from the double boiler and set aside to cool slightly.  

In a medium bowl using a hand mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs with the egg yolks, sugar and salt on high speed until thickened and pale.  This will take about 4-5 minutes.  

Using a rubber spatula, fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, folding in the flour additionally until just combined.  Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins, dividing the batter equally among each.  At this point, the cakes can be kept at room temperature for 1 hour or stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before baking.  If kept in the fridge, bring to room temperature for 30-40 minutes before baking.  

Place the sheet pan with the filled ramekins into the hot oven, baking for 8-11 minutes, depending on how soft you prefer your cake.  Bake less time for a more fluid lava texture.  The sides of the cakes will be firm with the center being soft and still very shiny.  Remove the sheet pan from the oven.  Let the cakes cool for 30-60 seconds.  

Place the serving plate on top of the ramekin.  Using a towel to protect your hands from the hot ramekins, carefully and with confidence, invert the ramekin and plate, allowing the cake to drop onto the plate.  Let the ramekin stand in place for 15 seconds, then remove it to reveal the cake.  Serve immediately.  Vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce are a nice accompaniment to the chocolate cake. 

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