Nothing says Valentine’s Day like a warm center chocolate cake. Cut into it, and the rich chocolate filling spreads across the plate, much like molten lava does during a volcanic eruption. Impressive, but for home cooks ( a category that definitely includes me), the timing- which typically calls for last minute mixing and baking- can be difficult. Enter Sebastien Cannone and Jacquy Pfeiffer, co-founders of French Pastry School (226 W. Jackson) in Chicago.
Cannone and Pfeiffer developed a recipe that can be mixed and baked; mixed, refrigerated and baked; and mixed, frozen and baked. You’ll need eight, three to four-ounce metal molds. The size of the mold will affect the number of servings. Cannone and Pfeiffer estimated the number at 7-8, but with my molds, I wound up with 8-10. Either way, you’ll certainly get at least 8 servings. And if you’re planning an intimate dinner for two, you can freeze the rest and use them at a later date.
If you want to garnish the plate with a raspberry or strawberry puree, you’ll also need a plastic squeeze bottle with a small tip. Neither the molds nor the bottles are expensive, and given how good the cakes are, you’ll probably use them a lot.
Bittersweet Warm Chocolate Cake
7 ounces (1 ¾-sticks) unsalted butter, preferably Plugra
1 ¼ cups bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 3/8 cups confectioner’s sugar
4 egg yolks
4 whole eggs
5/8 cups sifted cake flour (measure after sifting)
Pre-heat oven to 375-degrees
1. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl place over hot water.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolks over hot water until warm
3. Using the whisk attachment of the mixer, slowly mix the confectioner’s sugar into the melted chocolate until smooth.
4. Gradually add the warm eggs to the chocolate mixture, and mix until smooth.
5. Add the sifted flour all at once, and mix until well combined.
6. Butter and flour the molds. Fill each mold three-quarters full.
7. At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the molds. Bring the cakes to room temperature before baking, approximately 30 minutes if frozen, 10 -15 if refrigerated.
8. Bake on a pre-heated baking sheet for 8-9 minutes. Unmold and serve immediately.
9. If you’re planning to garnish the plate with a fruit puree, fill the bottle beforehand. The cakes can also be served a la mode, but here again, the assembly has to move quickly.
Note: If you don’t have a whisk attachment for your mixer, use the beaters you normally use for making a cake.