Thursday, February 08, 2007
Mild Chocolate Lava Cakes
Chocolate Lava Cakes have become all the rage in the past few years. King Arthur makes a Chocolate Lava Cake Mix, which is more foolproof than any recipe of this type you’ll find; we recommend it highly. However, we know that there are those of you out there who bake strictly from scratch and love a baking challenge, so we invite you to sink your teeth into this one–literally!
These cakes are a delight to serve; watch people’s eyes when they dig into them and discover a hot, oozing pool of chocolate. All of that said, we do need to caution you that timing is of the essence here. Take the cakes out of the oven a minute too soon, and they won’t be sturdy enough to make it out of the pan; a minute later, and the molten center will have turned into a damp spot, akin to a dried-up mud puddle. The challenge is to catch them and take them out of the oven at the exact right moment. An instant-read thermometer is a huge help here; if you don’t have one, you’ll have to rely on poking around a cake’s center with the tip of a knife while the oven’s 400°F heat blasts in your face.
We initially had a concern about heating the eggs to a high enough temperature to make them food-safe, but that’s no problem; eggs become safe at 165°F, and the center of these cakes reaches that and almost inevitably goes beyond, even when it’s still liquid. Just the same, we advise refrigerating any leftovers. The nice thing is, you can make exactly the number of cakes you want, leaving the remainder in the freezer for the next time you get a lava-cake craving.
Finally, despite the semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, these cakes are more milk chocolate than dark. If you’ve ever had a Drake’s Yankee Doodles chocolate snack cake, these are that exact flavor.
2/3 cup (5 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter*
1/8 teaspoon salt*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional, but good)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup (2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
*If you use regular salted butter, leave out the additional salt.
In a saucepan set over low heat, or in the microwave, melt together the chocolate chips and butter, stirring till smooth.
In a separate bowl, beat together the salt, vanilla, espresso powder (if you’re using it), eggs, and sugar, beating till smooth and creamy. Add the chocolate mixture, then the flour, stirring till smooth; the batter will be a light “hot cocoa” color.
Use vegetable oil pan spray to heavily grease 12 standard muffin papers, foil cups, or silicone cups; silicone cups will give you the best result, as they hold their shape best in the oven. Place the cups in a muffin tin. The muffin cups we used are a generous 2 1/2” across the top, and hold about 5 tablespoons of batter (a scant 1/3 cup) each.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them nearly to the brim (about 1/8” below the rim). Place the muffin tin in the freezer and chill the cakes thoroughly; cover with plastic wrap and freeze, overnight at the minimum, or for up to 2 weeks.
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Remove one of the cakes from the freezer just before baking, set it on a cookie sheet, and bake for exactly 14 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the upper center will read 165°F or slightly higher; 165°F-170°F is the temperature at which the center will be molten, but the sides and bottom set. If you don’t have a thermometer, you should see molten batter atop the cake, at its center, just under a very thin crust; take a knife and poke, to make sure. However, the cake should also appear well-set all around the rest of the top. Remove the cake from the oven, turn it over onto a serving plate, peel off the baking cup, and slice it open. If the center is suitably oozy, place however many frozen cakes you want to bake on the cookie sheet, and bake them for 14 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn out onto serving plates, and serve immediately, with whipped cream, ice cream, and/or raspberries, and/or hot fudge sauce, if desired. Yield: 12 cakes.
©2006 The King Arthur Flour Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.