My relationship with chocolate molten cakes is tricky. I’m not a huge chocolate person, but that puts me in the 1% in a cacao-infatuated world. Pies, pound cake, and ice cream satiate my sweet tooth, but numerous requests for “anything-chocolate” from you, readers and clients, mean that I spend a significant amount of time baking with chocolate.
Over the years, these molten cakes have proven to be a challenge although, in theory, they should be simple. One popular approach advises the cook to under-bake the cakes themselves. When served, the un-cooked batter flows out and the diner cheerfully eats it up. I have no problem eating batter prior to baking, but serving up a partially cooked cake is not my idea of a beautifully executed dessert.
Instead, I opt for the truffle approach. Hot cream melts milk chocolate chips which I allow to cool before shaping into small balls. I quickly chill them in the freezer and pop them into the cake batter either right before or during baking (see details in the recipe). The cake batter rises and sets while the chilled chocolate ball melts. Served up immediately, a fork plunged into the center of one of these small desserts yields a rich cake that literally bursts with chocolate lava. Tears of joy, declarations of love, and/or moans of ecstasy from the chocolate lover at your table typically ensue.
Ramekins may be used as molds for these chocolate cakes, but be prepared for a bit more angst when it comes time to bake and serve them. Ramekins hold heat which means that you’ll need to allow the cakes to cool a bit longer than 2 minutes before you can safely turn them out on a plate for serving. You’ll also want to watch cakes baked in ramekins while they are in the oven as they sometimes need a couple extra minutes of baking to properly set.
Silicone molds, like this set that I purchased on Amazon, are much easier to work with and yield much more consistent results. If cooking for a crowd or looking to take the stress out of the whole enterprise, they are worth the money. Regardless of which approach you take, be sure to generously spray the ramekins or silicone molds with cooking spray to allow the baked cakes to easily release.
Lastly, in researching recipes I couldn’t find a single recipe that called for making the cakes ahead of time and then baking them off right before serving. While straightforward to make, I can’t imagine any cook wants to prepare these cakes on the fly especially if one has already expended effort on dinner.
Figuring it couldn’t be too big of deal to throw them in the fridge for an afternoon, I did just that and found that they baked off splendidly later that evening. Encouraged, I left some of the cakes in the fridge overnight. The next evening I baked one off and it tasted just as good as the night before. Emboldened, I ended up leaving one of the cakes in my refrigerator for three days (I kept the truffles in the freezer during that time) and, yes, you guessed it, no problems when it came time to bake. In short, assembly is a little tricky after the cakes have been in the refrigerator, but in my opinion it’s worth the extra effort to be able to bake this popular dessert off whenever the chocolate-craving strikes. Happy baking!
Chocolate Molten Cakes – Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes 8 individual cakes
1/4 cup heavy cream
6 ounces milk chocolate chips
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 large eggs
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ cup bread flour
Special Equipment: 8 (6-ounce) ramekins or silicone baking cups
In a small saucepan, scald the heavy cream over medium-low heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the milk chocolate chips until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture into a small bowl and chill in the refrigerator until cold. Once cold, scoop out small balls of chocolate (about 2 teaspoons in size) and place them on a small baking sheet. Put the chocolate truffles in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and generously spray each ramekin with cooking spray. Place prepared ramekins on a large baking sheet.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and semi-sweet chocolate chips over medium-low heat stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until combined. Fold in the chocolate-butter mixture and then fold in the bread flour. Fill each ramekin 3/4s of the way full.
Bake the cakes on the baking sheet for 10 minutes or until they are just set. Remove the cakes from the oven and gently push the frozen chocolate truffles into the center of each cake making sure the batter covers the balls. Return the cakes to the oven and bake until the tops of the cake are set, about 5 to 10 minutes longer. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow the cakes to cool for 2 minutes before turning the cakes out onto a plate. Serve immediately.
To prepare in advance, assemble as directed filling each ramekin 3/4s of the way full. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate cakes at this time. Keep your chocolate truffles in the freezer. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a spoon to scoop out the center of each chocolate cake (it will be very thick) and place a frozen chocolate truffle in the center. Cover with the cake batter (this will be tricky and won’t look very good – don’t be alarmed!). Bake for 18 minutes until cakes are just set and chocolate truffles have melted. Allow to cool for 2 minutes then gently turn cake onto a dessert plate to serve.