Molten Chocolate Cake

One upon a time, a molten chocolate cake or chocolate lava cake was classy ending to a fancy meal.  Then, it started cropping up at chains like Red Lobster, Chili’s, and Applebee’s.  And, when you can get a dessert at a place where a group of servers will sing to you on your birthday while cursing their lot in life, there is no room for pretentiousness.

There are conflicting accounts as to the conception of this dessert.  A US-based chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten claims to have discovered it in the late 80’s after accidentally underbaking some chocolate sponge cakes, but deciding that they were tasty anyway.  French chef Jacques Torres argues that there was already such a dessert popularized in France long before this.  Regardless of who invented it and how, it still remains a popular restaurant dessert.  It is also fairly easy to make, which means that you can whip them up for dinner parties and impress your guests.

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Chocolate Lava Cake (from Epicurious)
makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 7.5 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brandy or rum
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour

Directions:

Grease 6 4oz souffle or custard cups. Arrange on baking sheet. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until smooth (you can also melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave. Remove from heat; stir in the brandy (or rum). Cool 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Using electric mixer, beat eggs, yolks, sugar, vanilla, espresso powder and salt in medium bowl until very thick ribbon falls when beaters are lifted, about 6 minutes. Sift flour over batter; fold in flour. Fold in chocolate mixture. Divide batter among dishes, filling completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover loosely; refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before baking.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake cakes until tops are puffed and dry and tester inserted into center comes out with moist batter still attached, about 13-15 minutes. Cool cakes for about 3-5 minutes before inverting onto a place.  Serve immediately.

There you have it!  A nice, soft cake with a runny center that oozes a rich, chocolate decadence when you break it open.  I served my cakes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of dulce de leche, but you can serve yours with whatever you want.  I strongly recommend you use the best quality chocolate that you can.  It really makes a big difference.

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