If you’ve ever seen Michael Smith’s show Chef at Home, then you probably know how he encourages home cooks to enjoy cooking, and not be afraid to wing it a bit. He often foregoes the measuring cup, favouring the eyeball method. I can’t help but love his approach for how it supports the whole idea of recipe experimentation. But for this recipe quest, especially since it is a baking one, I’m sticking with the exact measurements.
Michael Smith’s molten cake recipe includes egg whites, sans yolks, whipped to frothy peaks. I like that he uses cocoa instead of flour, as it can only intensify the chocolate flavour. And with 8 ounces of chocolate to six servings, something good has to come out of this recipe.
The batter was easy enough to make. As with any folding of light and heavy ingredients, I tried to work fast so as to lose as little air as possible, in this case from the whipped whites. The whites gave the raw batter a very moussy texture.
Smith says to bake them until they “they have risen and cracked on top but are still a bit runny in the centre”, about seven or eight minutes. I found that the cakes took longer in the oven than instructed to get the desired height and craquelure. However, I couldn’t tell until I plated them whether they’d be “a bit runny in the centre”. Plating proved a to be literal let-down, as the cakes fell immediately when I turned them onto the plates. They were soufflé-like in that it was hard to treat them delicately enough to keep the volume.
The exteriors of the cakes had the perfect sugary crunch. The insides were moist, but not saucy. Sigh. Still, the flavour was good–for me at least. My kids preferred the less seriously chocolately flavour of Trish Magwood’s version. The texture was good; if only it had been saucy. That was, I’m sure, a matter of having cooked them so much longer than called for. Raising the oven temperature and lowering the cooking time might get the desired rising, cracked top, and sauciness. I’m going to hold off on trying that, though, until I see what David Lebovitz has to offer. One week to go for that one!