I’ve very picky about which desserts I’ll make for a dinner party, and molten chocolate cakes aren’t one of them. In order to achieve the warm, glorious, pudding-like centers, the cakes need to be baked and served immediately, giving you no time to make hasty last-minute changes if something goes wrong. If one of them bursts open as you put it on a plate, there’s nothing you can do to repair the damage. Plus, the baking and plating process would take me away from where I want to be – the party!
But I think they’re the perfect dessert to share with your special Plank. After all, you can pop them in the oven as you’re cleaning up the dinner dishes (or as your Plank is cleaning up the dinner dishes, which happens in our house). And the pressure of perfect performance is off – after all, your Plank will love you even if the molten chocolate cake is a tad more cake and a tad less molten than you had planned.
Flavor wise, these cakes are a more sophisticated use of chocolate than the your standard heart-shaped box ‘o chocolates from the CVS – the cakes have a deep, rich chocolate flavor. Because the cakes are underbaked, their centers become a cross between fudge and pudding, which oozes out when you cut into them. And if you serve the warm cakes with cool mint sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, the different textures, flavors, and temperatures are an experience that will heighten your senses. In a nutshell, they’re perfect for Valentine’s Day.
A couple of practical notes: I made the full recipe of mint sauce because I wanted leftovers to serve over vanilla ice cream (which was amazing), but I only made a half-recipe for the cakes, since I didn’t want leftovers. This was a little tricky, since the recipe called for three eggs and three egg yolks. So I used the eyeball method to split my eggs in half. I don’t think this is a fussy recipe, because the cakes came out fine. Still, since I didn’t test this recipe extensively, I’m leaving you with the original Epicurious recipe for six chocolate cakes.
Also, I neglected to serve this with the vanilla ice cream, and I think it was a huge mistake – you need the coolness of the ice cream to counterbalance the warmth of the oozing cake. So please don’t repeat my mistake – spring for the pint of Häagen-Dazs. You and your Plank will thank me.
Molten Chocolate Cakes with Mint Fudge Sauce
By Gale Gand
4 1/2 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup hot water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
5 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Vanilla ice cream
Stir both chocolates in top of double boiler over barely simmering water until melted. Add 1/3 cup hot water, corn syrup and extract; whisk until smooth. Remove from over water. Cool slightly. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill. Before serving, rewarm in saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly.)
Preheat oven to 450°F. Butter six 3/4-cup soufflé dishes or custard cups. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted. Cool slightly. Whisk eggs and egg yolks in large bowl to blend. Whisk in sugar, then chocolate mixture and flour. Pour batter into dishes, dividing equally. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)
Bake cakes until sides are set but center remains soft and runny, about 11 minutes or up to 14 minutes for batter that was refrigerated. Run small knife around cakes to loosen. Immediately turn cakes out onto plates. Spoon sauce around cakes. Serve with ice cream.