February 2, 2007

An Early Valentine!

January has been a month of celebrations for Paul and me. We’ve had many dinners where we thought, “we need to break out that bottle of…” So, lately, my motivation in the kitchen has come from needing to make something good enough to drink with fill-in-the-blank. (Maybe we received too many alcoholic Christmas gifts?!) Either way, it’s been a fun month. New city, new job, (new restaurants to discover!) and a new sense of security – along with the joy that comes with fixing up a home with the knowledge that you just might be there for a while! What better reason could there be to indulge?

I’d been having a craving for one of those delicious molten chocolate cakes we ordered so often when we lived in Paris. Les moelleux au chocolat are supremely decadent. Breaking under the surface of the cake to discover a pool of melted chocolate gushing from the middle is a beautiful thing. The fact that they’re actually easy to make at home never seems to ruin the experience of being served one of these lovelies in a restaurant. What sauce will accompany it? Will there be a big wing of solid chocolate protruding from the middle with spun caramelized sugar cascading down around it? How will the pool of crème anglaise underneath compare with the raspberry coulis from last week?

Fond memories and yet, I wanted to try something different. I have long loved the flavor combination of chocolate and cinnamon. One of the greatest food memories I have started with a sip of the Mexican hot chocolate at Anahuacalli, the best Mexican restaurant in Paris, in my humble opinion. So, I was curious if I could simply add some ground cinnamon to the batter of a standard molten chocolate cake.

It worked pretty well, although since I was mindful that too much cinnamon could add an off-putting taste (i.e. insta-headache) I ended up not adding quite enough. But, I was very happy to have combined two of my favorite things. Since Paul is not a fan of cinnamon in his chocolate, I made half of them the old fashioned way and added the cinnamon to the other half of the batter, so everyone was happy. Two different cakes and two yummy memories combined into one.

So, here’s the recipe for a fabulous oozing chocolate cake – with, or without, cinnamon. This is also my contribution to Meeta's Monthly Mingle and is sure to please your sweetheart this Valentine's Day! Go check out her listing of sweet desserts made by bloggers around the world after February 8th!

Molten Chocolate Cinnamon Cakes
(recipe from Cook's Illustrated, The Best Recipe)

8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for ramekins
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously butter and flour 8 small ramekins or custard cups. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a large bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Do not let the bowl touch the water, instead using the steam to gently and indirectly heat the chocolate. Stir the chocolate occasionally for even melting. Once melted, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Beat the eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed until mixture lightens in color and triples in size, about 7-8 minutes. Add the cooled chocolate and the flour (and cinnamon) to the egg mixture and gently fold together without deflating the eggs too much. The batter will be foamy.

Ladle the batter equally into the 8 ramekins. Bake for 12 minutes, until the outside is set and the center is still jiggly. Loosen the cakes by running a knife around the edge and invert it on a plate. Let cool 30 seconds – 1 minute and lift off the ramekin. Serve immediately with whipped cream, ice cream, or a strained fruit puree. Serves 8.

These can be made the day before, refrigerated and baked the next day with decent results, although the same day is preferable.


Meeta said...

I love molten cakes too. Thank you so much for entering this gorgeous sounding recipe to the MM.

Brilynn said...

Looks delicious! Molten cakes are always a winner!

Helene said...

These look scrumptious. I have seen many many recipes for those but yours is by far the most straightforward and tried and true! That picture alone is awesome!

Arfi Binsted said...

i love molten chocolate pudding. i once made a recipe from donna hay magazine. delicious!! yours looks tempting!!