Sunday, August 28, 2011

Molten Chocolate Lava Souffle Cakes

My dad is the BIGGEST chocolate lover... ever! To him, dessert isn't dessert unless there is chocolate involved. Whenever we would eat out at restaurants, we could take one glance at the dessert menu and know exactly which one he would order; it's always whatever option is was most ooey gooey and chocolatey....either a hot fudge brownie sundae, a molten chocolate lava cake, or some fudgey chocolate mountain cake. On top of that, he always asks for extra vanilla ice cream with whichever dessert he orders (a bad habit I've picked up). I mean, the man knows how to do dessert right.... and now I'm so busted if he reads this.

Anyway, I've always wanted to learn to make those lava cakes that we would see at his favorite restaurants, but I always thought they were super tricky. I have finally learned and it was SO much easier than I thought! In fact, you can make all of it in about 10 minutes if you can multitask. Mix the yolks while the chocolate is melting, stir those two together, and once you beat the egg whites these little souffles are in the oven before you know it- all in less than 10 minutes!

They are great for entertaining too, because you can make them ahead of time, even a day before, and store them in the fridge until you are ready to put them in the oven. This particular time that I made them, Peter and I had our friends, Zack and Mallory, over for dinner and I made all of it ahead of time EXCEPT for the beaten egg whites (because I didn't want them to deflate in the fridge). All I had to do was warm the chocolate mixture back up, beat the whites and fold them in, and we had fresh warm lava cakes ready on demand!

Recipe (serves 4):
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) Salted Butter
  • 6 ounces chocolate (I used semi sweet chips, but you can use any chocolate that you like :)
  • 1 teaspoon Instant Coffee granules
  • 3 Large Eggs, separated
  • 1/3 cup Granulated Sugar, plus 1 Tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon Cream of Tartar

For Serving:
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Coffee
  • Milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and then sugar the insides of your baking ramekins, and place them on a baking sheet. Set this aside so that they will be ready and waiting for you when you are ready to pour the batter into them later.

Over a double boiler, melt 1/2 cup (1 stick butter) and 6 ounces of chocolate (just like when making chocolate for fondue).
If your butter is cold, you will need to dice it up into cubes so that it will melt at the same rate as the chocolate. If it is room temperature, then no dicing is necessary. This should only take about 5 minutes. After the chocolate-butter mixture is all melted and combined, stir in 1 teaspoon of instant coffee until completely melted into the chocolate.

In a separate bowl, mix together the 3 egg yolks and 1/3 cup granulated sugar until thick and pale (just like when making ice cream). If using a stand mixer, this should only take about 4 or 5 minutes. then stir in the 1 tsp. vanilla:

Gently stir this yolk mixture into the chocolate bowl:

Place the 3 egg whites, the 1/8 tsp cream of tartar, and 1 Tbsp granulated sugar in a new bowl, or clean the yolk bowl and dry it completely (if there is any water moisture or oily residue left in the bowl, the whites you are about to whip won't reach their full potential). Whip this together until firm peaks form; about 5 minutes or so:

GENTLY fold this mixture into the chocolate in 2 batches. Fold in the first half of the whites gently until combined, then fold in the second half of the whites -gently again- until just combined. Do not over mix or else your whites will deflate! You have to be careful not to break down the stiffness of the firm egg whites; this is what will give your cakes volume and make your souffles rise and puff the way they are supposed to. Pour the batter into the 4 ramekins.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 13-15 minutes. Their 'puffiness' will start falling within a few minutes of pulling them out of the oven, so serve and enjoy immediately. 

You can dust with powdered sugar on top and serve with a side of vanilla ice cream. I put the ice cream right on top because I love when the ice cream melts into the warm molten middle, but technically I think that goes against souffle rules since it automatically deflates the souffle.... but hey, I'm okay with breaking rules for ice cream :)
I mean, look at this guy- he is just screaming for some ice cream!


They are SUPER moist and 'molteny' inside :) ...and VERY rich, so vanilla ice cream and/or a cup of milk is necessary!

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