Molten Chocolate Cake (gf)

While some of us think of  St. Valentine's Day as a Hallmark Holiday, it's not actually devoid of history. Some records count eleven different saints named Valentine: one of them a Palestinian woman. It seems the saint we celebrate with cupids and arrows was put to death on 14th February, 3rd Century AD for marrying Christians to each other and for causing the general displeasure of then-emperor Claudius by advocating for the rights of Christians within the Roman Empire.

I can't be sure, but I don't think that when St. Valentine was saving the Christians, he planned on having a chocolate-and-roses holiday celebrated in his honor. Maybe, though, he would have approved of the sentiment behind it all, that of spreading love. In my humble experience, roses are nice but chocolate IS love.

As it turns out, my very special heart-friend Leigh was in town last weekend and as a natural expression of my affection, I had planned to bake for her and her beautiful family who flew all the way from Virginia to see us. Before their arrival, I had visions of morning coffee cakes and afternoon cookies. The thing about baking is that it takes time. And time is a precious commodity when you're spending time with someone you only see once a year. You know?

One day during their visit we were all hanging out at our local beach park when I gently excused myself and made my way home. Thinking of Leigh, Jeremy, Olive and Delilah, I melted, whipped and folded furiously (well, I slowed down for the folding) to get a gorgeous chocolate batter for molten chocolate cake mixed for a quick bake after dinner. After we ate, Leigh and I poured the batter into buttered-and-sugared ramekins and baked away. Actually, I did all that while she peered over my shoulder asking what I was doing each step of the way. This is how much I love Leigh: anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I allow NO ONE in the baking lab when I'm in there. I mean, no one. But, somehow, for Leigh, it wasn't even an exception. It was fun. Sort of. (Hee, hee.)

Back to the cakes, which turned out light in texture and rich in flavor. The cake recipe I got from Zoe Bakes, who created it as a flour-free recipe for Passover. The molten centers came from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes. Both are easier than I thought they'd be to make and both came out perfectly, despite my rushing through.

These were so good, so filled with love, that everyone practically licked their bowls clean. What an incredible feeling it was to share not only what I love to do, but to have everyone love it as I did. Warm fuzzies all around!



P.S. Leigh, come back!!!!!!!!! I can't wait another year. Wah, wah, wah!

Molten Chocolate Cake
Yield: 9 servings
10 oz. 60% Ghirardelli double chocolate chips
1/4 C cocoa, plus more for garnishing cakes, if desired
10 T unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering ramekins
1/4 t salt
6 large egg whites
1/4 cup sugar, plus extra for dusting ramekins
9 pure chocolate truffles, recipe follows

For the cakes:
1. Make the truffles and set aside (see recipe at the end of this post).
2. Butter 9 4-oz. ramekins and then coat with sugar. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in the center of the oven.

4. Place the chocolate in a double boiler or glass bowl over a pan water. Once the water is simmering, turn off the heat and allow the chocolate to melt.

5. Whisk in the cocoa powder, butter and salt until completely smooth.

6. In a stand mixer or separate bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Reduce the speed and gradually add the sugar. Once it is all added turn the speed to medium-high and whip to medium-soft peaks.

7. Mix 1/3 of the whites into the chocolate to loosen it up and then fold in another 1/3 of the whites. Repeat with the last of the whites.

8. Spoon the batter evenly among the prepared ramekins. (I
t should go about 1/2 way up the sides.)
9. Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake the cakes for about 8 minutes. The cake should peel away from the sides of the ramekins and look fairly solid to the eye, but jiggle in the center a bit.
10. Remove from the oven and let the cake sit for about 3 minutes before inverting onto a plate.
11. Dust with cocoa, if desired. As always, I recommend a scoop of Vanilla Haagen Dazs. Just sayin'.

Chocolate Truffles
From Rose Levy Beranbaum's Molten Chocolate Souffle and Lava Cakes Recipe
2 oz. dark chocolate
1/4 C plus 2 T heavy cream

For the truffles:
1. Melt the chocolate until just melted. Set aside. 
2. Heat the cream on the stove top until just before it boils.
3. Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk together. Let sit at room temp for about 4 hours or put into the fridge for an hour or so to congeal.

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