All my life, I’ve had a really hard time picking favorites. When I was little, people always asked me about my favorite color, favorite food, favorite book etc. All of the other kids seemed to have an immediate response to these questions, while I would just stand there dumbfounded for a few minutes weighing the pros and cons of each choice. Even to this day these questions stress me out. Do I have to pick just one?! I can be a little indecisive.
But this past summer, I discovered my favorite chocolate. This was a pretty huge deal, now that you know that I don’t take favorites lightly. When I took my first bite of Recchiuti at the San Fransisco Ferry Market, I was in love. I’ve had my share of different chocolates — but this was nothing like anything I’ve tasted before. It was smooth, with a bold, fruity chocolate flavor as well as smoky, subtle cocoa flavor. It was perfect. I brought home a few bars, and although the first few didn’t last long, I had enough self control to save two bars for baking.
I knew I had to bake them into something special. I didn’t want to drown something that was already so perfect in marshmallow fluff or caramel sauce, nor did I want to bake them into something boring like brownies. I needed a recipe simple enough to let their flavors shine through. After waiting six months, I finally found the perfect recipe to use them in. My good friend’s mom who is an amazing cook made dark chocolate lava cakes for dessert (served with homemade vanilla gelato). The combination of cool, creamy gelato and warm molten chocolate was absolutely perfect, and I knew that I had to learn to make these myself. She let me copy the recipe, and of course, I made them the next day.
Because I only had two bars of Recchiuti, I couldn’t screw this recipe up (talk about pressure!), so I did some research. Here are a few pieces of advice for perfect lava cakes. Remember to grease your ramekins generously — you want the cakes to slide right out. If they stick, you will end up with a (delicious) pile of goo. Also, keep an eye on them in the oven, they cook insanely quickly. You’re looking for cooked outside
& soft inside (soft does not mean jiggly). Start checking at around 10 minutes, 12 minutes worked perfectly for me but every oven is different.
In the end, I breathed a sigh of relief when didn’t screw the recipe up — and my special chocolate bars melted perfectly into these simple, gorgeous little cakes. I couldn’t have asked for a better recipe to use my favorite chocolate in the world in. The great thing about these cakes that they are so exciting to serve — they look plain, like a boring chocolate muffin… and then all of a sudden simmering chocolate sauce comes oozing out of the center. Talk about presentation! All they need is a little dusting of powdered sugar — but if you’re the type to make your own homemade gelato, be my guest. 🙂
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 450°. Butter and lightly flour four 6-ounce
ramekins. Tap out the excess flour. Set the ramekins on a baking sheet.
In a double boiler, over simmering water, melt the butter with the
chocolate. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the egg yolks, sugar and
salt at high speed until thickened and pale.
Whisk the chocolate until smooth. Quickly fold it into the egg mixture
along with the flour. Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins and
bake for 12 minutes, or until the sides of the cakes are firm but the
centers are soft. Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 minute, then
cover each with an inverted dessert plate. Carefully turn each one over,
let stand for 10 seconds and then unmold. Serve immediately. Make Ahead:
The batter can be refrigerated for several hours; bring to room temperature before baking.
Recipe by Jean-Georges Vongerichten
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