Molten Chocolate Cakes
Chocolate molten cake is my personal weakness. I cannot go without ordering it when I see it on a restaurant menu. Fairly common on many menus, it is a dessert that is not always created euqal. I can attest to this because I've tried pretty much all of them. But the best molten chocolate cake I've ever had is the one served at Jean Georges Restaurant; it's a signature dish of the restaurant and is on the menu at practically all of Jean Georges's establishments. For me it is an unforgettable dish. And I convince all my friends to try it too; I rarely have to force them. As the saying goes, dessert is served last, but don't let it be least, especially not this one.
This dessert is probably one of the easiest to make at home. So if you're unable to have dinner at Jean Georges or are on a budget like I am, why not try making it at home. It's a simple yet highly rewarding dessert. It's perfect for a dinner party because it can be made ahead, refrigerated, and baked just minutes before it's time to eat dessert. The first spoonful of lava-like chocolate oozing out from the center of the cake is so seductive that guests won't soon forget it. I think any holiday meal would benefit greatly with this molten cake served as dessert. It's a little bit unexpected and will add that touch of gourmet to the evening.
Many claim to have invented the recipe, but I think it might even be a dessert that Jean Georges himself created. But with a dessert this good, you might want to claim it's your personal concoction. To put my spin on the recipe, I heighten the chocolate flavor by adding espresso powder and pure vanilla extract. For a touch of heat, I also add a pinch of cayenne pepper. It's almost unnoticeable but it makes the difference in rounding out the complexity of the chocolate flavor. Any flavorings that you prefer can be added: a hint of orange, raspberry, or mint liqueur are all great options. For the purist, leave out all the flavorings, and the result will still be as satisfyingly rich and decadent as the original.
Molten Chocolate Cakes
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Butter six 4-ounce custard cups and dust lightly with flour.
On medium-low heat, melt butter and chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Add the espresso powder and cayenne pepper. Stir until the chocolate has melted completely and the mixture is well incorporated. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and salt until light and frothy. Fold the mixture into the cooled chocolate. Sift the flour and cocoa powder over the bowl; fold until combined. Divide batter among prepared custard cups. Place cups on a rimmed baking sheet.
Bake the cakes until centers are soft and sides are set and pull away from cups, about 8 to 10 minutes. Invert each cup onto a plate and let sit until cake drops from the cup. A small offset spatula can be used to assist. Serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings.