This is one of the first “fancy” desserts I ever learned how to make, their inclusion in my repertoire pre-dating my training in Paris, and they are absolutely one of the family’s favorites. Rumor has it that these little lovelies were born out of a mistake made in the pastry kitchen of legendary chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, when a tray of individual cakes were pulled from an oven before being baked through. Good thing he tasted one as it’s liquid chocolate center oozed across the plate, and didn’t just chuck it in the trash….can you image where we’d be right now without the ubiquitous “molten chocolate cake” in our cooking lexicon? Nowhere I’d want to be, I can assure you of that!
These cakes are exceedingly simple to make, and while I have tried various related recipes over the years, I still find myself coming back to Jean-Georges original for it’s purity of taste, and it’s simplicity of execution. This pastry “fail” was such an immediate hit that J-G put the recipe for the little bombs in his quite excellent cookbook, Jean-Georges: Cooking At Home with a Four-Star Chef . The only other melting cake that I’ve liked nearly as much, was one I had at Bobby Flay’s “Mesa Grill” that had some mix of chipotle or ancho pepper in it….YUM! I’ve yet to find Bobby’s recipe anywhere, so a little “Oui, Chef” experimentation may be in order to crack the code soon.
The only real trick to making these is to make sure that you don’t get distracted when they are in the oven and leave them there too long. 6 or 7 minutes are really all the time required to cook these, and if they bake too long, the center will cook through, and not run when you cut it open. It will still taste great (I know, because I’ve over-cooked these before), but you’ll lose your luscious molten chocolate ooze, and where’s the fun in that.
These are such a fixture around here, that when we traveled to Canada last February for a family ski vacation, we brought all the fixins (including the non-stick molds) for these lovelies so that we could make them for dessert one night at the condo. We are all such spoiled little foodies!
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus more to butter the molds
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons flour, plus more for dusting
- In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, heat the butter and chocolate together until the chocolate is almost completely melted. While that’s heating, beat together the eggs, yolks, and sugar with a whisk or electric beater until light and thick.
- Beat together the melted chocolate and butter; it should be quite warm. Pour in the egg mixture, then quickly beat in the flour, just until combined.
- Butter and lightly flour four 4-ounce molds, custard cups, or ramekins. Tap out the excess flour, then butter and flour them again. Divide the batter among the molds. (At this point you can refrigerate the desserts until you are ready to eat, for up to several hours; bring them back to room temperature before baking.)
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Bake the molds on a tray for 6 to 7 minutes; the center will still be quite soft, but the sides will be set.
- Invert each mold onto a plate and let sit for about 10 seconds. Unmold by lifting up one corner of the mold; the cake will fall out onto the plate. Serve immediately.