WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
After arriving at satisfactory amounts of butter (lots), flour (very little), chocolate (not too much), and eggs (four whole eggs plus one yolk) we achieved our goal: a molten cake recipe that was rich and yet light, moist, intense, and dark. Cooking temperature was also a critical step in our molten chocolate cake recipe to produce a light, cake-like perimeter around a moist well of intense chocolate. We were happy to find that the batter can be made and poured into the ramekins ahead of time and refrigerated, then baked during dinner. Even better, we found that these cakes can be frozen for up to a month and baked without thawing, making them an ideal make-ahead dessert.SERVES 8
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped coarse
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
The whipping time in step 3 will depend on the type of mixer you use; a standing mixer will take about 5 minutes, while a handheld mixer will take about 10 minutes. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream, fresh berries, and/or dust the cakes with cocoa or confectioners’ sugar.
1. FOR THE RAMEKINS: Mix the butter and cocoa together to make a paste. Brush the paste evenly inside eight 6-ounce ramekins; set aside.
2. FOR THE CAKE: Melt the chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl set over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, whip the whole eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt, and sugar together at the highest speed until the volume nearly triples, the color is very light, and the mixture drops from the whisk in a smooth, thick stream, 5 to 10 minutes depending on your mixer (see note).
4. Scrape the egg mixture over the melted chocolate mixture, then sprinkle the flour over the top. Gently fold the egg and flour into the chocolate until the mixture is uniformly colored. Ladle or pour the batter into the prepared ramekins.
5. TO STORE: Cover each ramekin tightly with plastic wrap and then foil and refrigerate for up to 8 hours or freeze for up to 1 month.
6. TO SERVE: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap the cakes and place them on a rimmed baking sheet (do not thaw before baking). Bake until the cakes have puffed about 1/2 inch above the rims of the ramekins, have a thin crust on top, and jiggle slightly at the center when they are shaken very gently, 12 to 15 minutes (if refrigerated, the cakes bake in 11 to 14 minutes). Serve in the ramekins or unmold onto individual plates. To unmold, run a paring knife around the inside edges of the ramekins to loosen the cakes, then invert them onto individual plates and let cool for 1 minute before removing the ramekins.