I am now the proud recipient of a subscription to Food Network Magazine. My subscription started just in time for The Chocolate Issue. You would think it would have been for February, but it’s dated for March. Go figure. We all know that chocolate is a big part of Valentine’s Day, right? I decided to pick a chocolate recipe and do a special Valentine’s Day post.
To further complicate things there are thirty (30!) dessert recipes with chocolate as well as a special pull-out recipe booklet with fifty (50!) brownie recipes! Even some of the non-dessert recipes were made with chocolate, like Cocoa-Rubbed Steak.
As I paged through the issue, there was one recipe that stood out: Molten Lava Cakes by the Food Network’s The Neeleys, (Patrick & Gina). Chocolate cake on the outside, sprinkled with powdered sugar, but inside…a lava flow oozing with a chocolaty, fudgy pudding-like goodness that fascinated me. Maybe it was my love of science, but this volcanic dessert was the one!
The best part of this recipe is the chocolate. But the second best part is how easy it is. The recipe also calls for eight 6 oz. ramekins. I’ve never owned a ramekin in my life. A ramekin is a mini ceramic casserole dish, often used for desserts or individual meat pies. I splurged and bought four, only able to find the 7 oz. size. For the other four I used the old stand-by glass Pyrex pudding dishes, and they worked fine. (Actually, I had less trouble with sticking with the Pyrex than I did with the Corningware ramekins.)
2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for coating the ramekins
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used a 12 oz. bag of semisweet chocolate chips)
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus more for dusting (optional)
6 large eggs, plus 6 egg yolks
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 400°. Butter the eight 6 oz. ramekins and sprinkle each with ½ teaspoon of granulated sugar.
Combine the butter, cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg, and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat. Stir frequently until melted and smooth. Cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, confectioners’ sugar, eggs and yolks, vanilla and almond extracts and whisk until creamy. Then whisk in the chocolate mixture until blended. Divide between the prepared ramekins.
|Here is the final batter with the chocolate blended into the flour, sugar and eggs.|
|The filled ramekins are ready for the oven.|
Bake the cakes until the tops are stiff and the edges darken, 12 to 14 minutes. (That's the third best part: They bake in no time.) Remove from the oven and let cool 5 to 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a small paring knife and transfer to plates while warm. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Several of my cakes in the ramekins did not release from the bottom. I simply inverted these and they actually looked like miniature active volcanoes, (and they tasted just as good.)
To see how they're supposed to look, check out the lead picture at the top of this post.
I did feel that the cakes actually tasted better when cooled than when still warm. I also could detect the ever-so-slight presence of the cayenne and can now confirm that it complements chocolate in a unique way.
I took several of the Molten Lava Cakes to a Monday morning Elders meeting at Parker Ford Church. Two of them went home to spouses, which when you’re talking about this level of chocolate, that was probably a good idea. The reviews came back as follows: Sick and wrong! …and by that I mean scrumptious and super yummy. And, Slammin’. How about, That cupcake-size morsel packed a huge wallop!
Here is some word crafting from a true lover of the language, who I believe has a future as a food reviewer: It exploded in our mouths like Vesuvius over Pompeii conquering our calorie-counting inhibitions and reshaping our recently re-sculpted least presentable parts. In a word, it was delicious.
So what about those least presentable parts? Well, to understand what this Bible scholar-turned-food reviewer means, you’ve got to read 1 Corinthians 12, and while you’re at it…since it’s Valentine’s Day, read Chapter 13, too!
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Enjoy!