Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Misadventure in Chocolate.

Going through some older Gourmet magazines, I found a recipe from Ghirardelli for their Individual Chocolate Lava Cakes and wanted to try it out. I had all the ingredients; but only needed to purchase another set of custard cups (safe for oven use) as I only had a set of 4 and the recipe made 6 cakes.
Now mind you, I'm not a big fan of baking from scratch; all that measuring and calculating, but I was up for giving it a go. It was chocolate, so how wrong could that be, right? I followed the directions, made the chocolate that would go in the center of the cake and waited the two hours recommended. Then it was time to make the batter and assemble in the cups; easy peasy. Only problem is that, even tempering in the oven before hand, my metal tray decided to warp, so the cups couldn't sit on it. I ended up balancing the cups on the oven's metal rack; the oval cups I had had no problem; the round ones kept me on my toes to make sure they stayed up straight.

After 15 minutes I moved the cups to a rack on the counter for 5 minutes of cooling. I could see the cakes begin pulling from the sides of the cups as they cooled, so was happy no knife was required to help remove them.

I inverted one cup over a dessert plate, the cake easily came out.  The chocolate smell was incredible!!!

I sliced the single cake open expecting to see molten chocolate ooze out; and what did I see? Cake; super moist, decadently rich cake, but no melted chocolate center. The melted chocolate had been absorbed into the cake batter as it baked and gave me...cake!

Maybe it was just this one, so I tried another only to find the same result. To the computer I ran to read up on molten lava cakes; some recipes had higher temperatures and less bake time; some had higher temperatures with more baking time. Many recipes incorporated the melted chocolate into the batter and baked them at the same temperature and timing as I had done. Cooking forums were a little more helpful than straight recipes; the conclusion was to use the same temperature, but lower the baking time to 10 minutes instead of 15. Ovens are all different and I guess mine baked quicker which resulted in the chocolate ball melting and then being absorbed into the batter.

So alas, my family and I had to bite the cake bullet with a whipped cream topping and sliced strawberry. Oh the agony of defeat never tasted so deliciously sweet.

...and here is the recipe and directions from Ghirardelli:

Individual Chocolate Lava Cakes


1 1/2 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bars
2 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cake flour


To make centers, melt 2 ounces of chocolate (1/2 a baking bar) and cream in double boiler. Whisk gently to blend. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm. Form into 6 balls; refrigerate until needed.

To make cake, heat oven to 400°F. Spray six 4-ounce ramekins or custard cups with cooking spray. Melt 4 ounces of chocolate (1 baking bar) and butter in double boiler; whisk gently to blend. With an electric mixer, whisk eggs, yolks, sugar, and vanilla on high speed about 5 minutes or until thick and light. Fold melted chocolate mixture and flour into egg mixture just until combined. Spoon cake batter into ramekins. Place a chocolate ball in the middle of each ramekin.

Bake about 15 minutes or until cake is firm to the touch. Let it sit out of the oven for about 5 minutes. Run a small, sharp knife around inside of each ramekin, place a plate on top, invert and remove ramekin. Garnish with raspberries and a dollop of whipped cream.

Makes 6.

Mary Cokenour