Last year I tested chocolate fondant/molten lava cake recipes as I think only a zealous chocoholic can. I tried them in ramekins (not as fun as opening them up to let the chocolate spill out on a plate), I baked some in a water bath (more pudding-like than cake on the outside), I poked little chunks of chocolate in the middle of some (which felt like cheating, and wasn’t the smooth and rich consistency of molten batter), and I experimented with different chocolate/sugar/flour ratios and minutes in the oven. Luckily I found a favorite before I became a walking molten lava cake myself. The best variation, to my taste, was this one, adapted from a recipe by Aussie chef Curtis Stone (another confessed chocoholic). Baked in a jumbo muffin pan, it uses quality dark bittersweet chocolate, just enough flour to set up without offsetting the rich chocolate goodness, and achieves that gooey molten effect that oozes out at the slightest touch of the spoon. This winning dessert — along with a day spent with my luvbugs and a lovely dinner prepared by my husband — makes for a very happy birthday today!
(Adapted from Curtis Stone’s recipe from his show, Take Home Chef, Season 1, Episode 22 — “Carolyn’s Menu”)
- 1 Tbs plus 2 sticks (1 cup)/226 g. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- unsweetened cocoa powder or granulated sugar for dusting
- 8 oz./210 g. dark bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
- 4 eggs + 4 egg yolks, close to room temperature
- 2/3 cup/135 g.granulated sugar (this is on the slightly sweet side; for European palates, you might want to go with less sugar)
- 1/3 cup/50 g. all-purpose flour, sifted or whisked in bowl
- Optional: powdered/confectioners sugar, vanilla ice cream and strawberries for serving
- Preheat the oven to 400 F/200 C. Coat a jumbo-size 6-muffin pan with 1 Tbs. butter. Dust the insides with either cocoa powder or granulated sugar, rolling it around to cover the sides and bottoms and tapping out any excess.
- Prepare a makeshift double-boiler on the stove, using a nonreactive, heat resistant (metal preferred) bowl over a steaming pot of water (the bowl resting on top of the pot without touching the water level in the pot beneath it), attaining just enough heat to melt the chocolate and butter slowly. First add the chopped chocolate and stir constantly until melted and smooth, then add the 1 cup/226 g. of butter in chunks and stir until all is melted and incorporated. Remove from heat.
- Crack the eggs and combine with egg yolks and sugar into a separate bowl and beat using a hand-held blender or electric mixer. Beat until pale and doubled in volume; this will take 3 to 5 minutes. Fold in the melted chocolate/butter mixture and stir well. Add the flour and whisk until smooth.
- Pour the batter into the muffin pan, dividing equally (the batter should be about 1 cm. or so from the tops). Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until slightly puffed and just set around the sides (a toothpick inserted would still come out with batter; they will be oozing still). Let the fondants rest for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Alternatively: to serve later, you can cover the filled muffin pan with wrap and store in the fridge for a few hours, then cook right before serving time, but the cooking time of the chilled batter will vary. I don’t have a precise time for this yet, since I tried this just once and had to check mine every few minutes, took them out too soon, and when I discovered they were still too soupy had to return them to the oven for a few minutes. If you try it this way, I’d guess it will take 15 minutes undisturbed, but keep an eye on them to achieve the right consistency — slightly puffed, molten on the inside, and firm and set on the outsides.
- Serve the slightly cooled fondants, carefully tipped out from the muffin pan, on individual plates or bowls with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, some vanilla ice cream and strawberries or a topping of your choice.