Tuesday, February 28, 2012

If You Can't Beat 'em, Join 'em

After years of resisting, I have finally conceded. I’ve been using the same “Molten”, “Lava”, “Warm”, whatever you want to call it chocolate cake recipe since they first became popular (still my most requested dessert by the way).  The thought then, when I a sous chef and chef de cuisine in restaurant kitchens, was if you added truffles, ganache, or anything else to the batter, it was because you were a shoemaker and couldn’t make it oozy and gooey enough by using proper technique alone.

Well, this past Christmas season, I was obsessed with truffles. I must have ended up with at least 5 different varieties (can’t remember exactly because some failed). You name it; I played with balsamic vinegar, ginger, honey, bourbon, stout, scotch and so on, but when Saint Valentine’s Day rolled around, I was reminded again of the hack “Lava” Cake recipes with their secret hidden short cut. I was shocked. It seemed liked practically everyone was making it that way now. So, naturally, I set out to show them how unnecessary all of their extra steps were.  
Then, one night a few weeks ago, I made my old stand by Individual Warm Chocolate Cakes (the recipe is in my August 19, 2009 blog post). The next night, I made that recipe again, but this time I hid one of my “go to” truffles inside each. Night 2 comments went like this; “The best chocolate cake ever!”, “Mmmmm, this is definitely better than the one last night.”, and “Daddy, can you make this for my birthday?”

I’ve got to admit; it was pretty good. Sure, it could save a hack shoemaker of a pastry cook from turning it into an overcooked chocolate muffin, but if you cook it properly, the double shot of chocolate is ridiculous. The semi-sweet chocolate harmonizing with the bittersweet and cocoa is a very cool touch. I also love the extra flavor that the liqueur provides. Plus, if you are a fan of gooeyness, this version is hard to beat. So, without further ado, here is my compromise. Give it a try and let me know what you think.     
Warm Chocolate Cakes 
2 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tbsp. Your choice of liqueur (i.e. Frangelico, Chambord, Grand Marnier, or Crème de Menthe)
3 tbsp. heavy cream
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 ¼ sticks of butter
Cocoa powder
1 ½ cups powdered sugar, plus extra to garnish
½ cup flour
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks

Place the semisweet chocolate and liqueur in a small bowl; set aside. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to simmer; pour over the chocolate and let sit for about a minute. Stir slowly until smooth, then let cool slightly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled. Divide chocolate mixture into 6 portions and shape each portion into a cherry sized ball. Refrigerate until chilled and firm.
Pre heat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease 6 molds and coat with cocoa.
In a small sauce pan, melt the bittersweet chocolate and butter. Stir until completely smooth.

In a largish bowl, add the sugar and flour. Pour in the melted chocolate mixture and stir until well blended. Whisk in whole eggs and yolks until well mixed. At this point, batter can be tightly covered and refrigerated for about a day.

Divide half of the mixture evenly among the 6 prepared molds. Place 1 truffle into the center of each mold and push it lightly into the batter. Divide the remaining batter evenly among the molds, totally covering the truffle.

Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes or until firm around edges but soft in center. Let rest 1-2 minutes then run a paring knife around each cake to loosen. Carefully invert onto individual plates. Sprinkle with powdered sugar (and/or whipped cream, if desired) and serve immediately.