Chocolate. The universal component of feeling good, love, and indulgence. For this past week I have been playing and teasing and cajoling with this ingredient to come close to perfection in the making of the classic French dessert that every self respectable cook should be able to accomplish: The Molten Chocolate Lava cake.
I began by going through my old Les Roches notes about the dessert. The recipes I had were written in my undecipherable chicken-scratch-like penmanship, so I reached out farther to my cookbooks. Larousse Gastronmique had a recipe that I referred to years ago but the amounts did not look right. As with most pastries and desserts, measurements are, and should always be, precise. I then searched through the web, watched wed videos and took more notes.
I whittled down the myriad of variation down to three recipes. Going through many chocolate bars in the process, a measure of hit-and-miss, produced exciting results. With time and temperature being constant, the first recipe yielded a tough, dense and overly sweet hockey puck. The second fell apart, with the chocolate flowing like a river, leaving a mess that any date would lose her poise with. The third recipe yielded a consistent product, but the chocolate was a mere dense center. Gooey, but not decadent.
So adjustments in temperature led to the same results as the 2nd recipe. Adjustments in time led to results of the first recipe. With determination, as I could not admit that this little piece of cake will beat me, i made some hairline adjustments, took more notes, ate more chocolate, and on Friday sliced into a perfectly soft sponge, the chocolate center slowly flowing out into the plate. The following recipe is the result.
Molten Chocolate Lava Cake
180 grams dark, bitter chocolate bar
150 grams unsalted butter
Place chocolate and butter in bowl and melt slowly over a double boiler. Stir occasionally to thoroughly blend
Remove from heat and cool slowly
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
75 grams white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
30 grams all purpose flour
In a bowl, briskly whisk eggs, vanilla and sugar until light, pale and thick
Fold in the warm chocolate mixture while enjoying the color burst. Fold in the flour until smooth and silky
Preheat oven to 400F
Grease some ramekins with butter and then coat lightly with sugar
Pour chocolate mixture into ramekins until just below from the rim
Place in oven and bake 10-12 minutes
Now this is where your sense of touch will make it come out perfect…
On the tenth minute, lightly prod the cake top. It should be wobbly
On the eleventh minute, touch the top again. It should be very slightly firmer
The moment the top does not wobble, take the cake out the oven
Let rest on table for 3-5 minutes. You can expect the dome to disappear after this. Run a small knife around the side of the cake to loosen
Place a plate on top and invert the cake. Slowly take out the ramekin
Serve with whipped cream and fresh strawberries or raspberries while warm
Like with any recipe, and especially with chocolate, love goes into the cooking. And when that happens, the recipe will be your own.