Ready for a break from your post-holidays diet? I hope so, because these little pots o’ chocolate cake are to die for—and they can even be made gluten-free!
I picked up these little gems at an “Autumn Fruits” cooking class, of all places, at NYC’s Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health. I think the pitch was that you could serve them with baked seckel pears…but I’ve always loved them all on their own. Even better, it turns out molten chocolate cakes can be prepared up to 8 hours ahead of time and cooked right before you serve dessert. Cook’s note: if you’re not familiar with ramekins, think classic crème brulee: those miniature white ceramic cups are ramekins. The good news, for those who don’t happen to own six small ceramic ramekins, is that disposable ones work best for this recipe. If you can’t find disposable ramekins, just look for jumbo cupcake tins, the kind with a foil and paper lining. Make these cakes for your next dinner party, sit back, and enjoy the molten chocolate excitement!
Mini-Molten Chocolate Cakes
From the Natural Gourmet Institute
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for buttering cups
- Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting cups
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 4 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup maple sugar or regular sugar
- 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour, or sourgum flour for gluten-free cakes
- Confectioner’s sugar or unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting (optional)
- Whipped cream or crème anglaise for serving (optional)
- Fresh raspberries for garnish (optional)
1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 400° F. Generously butter ramekins and then sprinkle cocoa powder into each, tapping and rotating so that all sticky portions of butter are evenly dusted. Tap excess cocoa powder out of cups and position ramekins on a baking sheet.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of almost simmering water, stirring once or twice, until smooth. Then remove from heat.
3. Beat whole eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt, and sugar at highest speed in a bowl of a standing mixer filled with whisk attachments, until volume nearly triples, color is very light, and mixture drops from beaters in a smooth, thick stream. This will take about five minutes. If you don’t have a stand mixture, do your best with a deep bowl and electric beaters. Scrape egg mixture over melted chocolate and butter, then sprinkle flour over top. Gently fold egg and flour into chocolate until mixture is uniformly colored. Ladle or pour batter into prepared ramekins. (At this point, cups can be covered lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 8 hours. Allow to sit at room temperature for thirty minutes before baking.)
4. Bake until cakes have puffed about ½ inch above rim of ramekins, have a thin crust on top, and jiggle slightly at center when cups are shaken very gently, 12 to 13 minutes. Run a paring knife around inside edges of ramekins to loosen cakes and invert them onto prepared serving plates. You can use tongs to dump the cups over, if they are very hot. Tip: Test the first cup to see if the consistency is right. The cake should hold it’s form, so if the cake splats on the plate, put the rest back in for 2-3 minutes and enjoy your “mistake” before your guests see.
5. If desired, sieve a light sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar or cocoa powder over cakes to decorate, and serve immediately with whipped cream, crème anglaise, fresh raspberries, etc. Ice cream is a good companion too!