That David Lebovitz.
He’s gotta be his own man. Most others call these molten chocolate cakes. But to Lebovitz, they are “Individual Hot Chocolate Cakes”. Well, a cake by any other name tastes as sweet, and I had only to glance at the instructions to know that we were talking about the same thing.
I love David Lebovitz’s blog. I discovered it a year ago when we were in Paris on a family vacation. I was trying to find somewhere in that beloved city to buy kouign amann, or Breton butter cake, a flakey, caramelized butter and sugar concoction we had tasted in Brittany several years before. Google introduced me to an American pastry chef living in Paris who didn’t sell kouign amann, but offered a beautifully detailed recipe for it, complete with instructional photographs. I’ve been following Lebovitz’s blog ever since. And I enjoy his writing and recipes so much that I own two of his books: last year’s The Sweet Life in Paris and this year’s Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes. Flipping through his latest cookbook has me crazy excited, positively verklempt–Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread, Chocolate-Caramel Soufflés, Orange-Almond Bread Pudding, Nectarine-Raspberry Upside-Down Gingerbread. I mean, honestly, where do you start? Plus there’s a section with recipes for the basics and “Caramelization Guidelines” in the appendix. Ah, Love, thy name is David Lebovitz. Sigh.
Ahem. Yes. Anyway, when I found that Lebovitz had a recipe for hot chocolate cakes, molten chocolate cakes, lava cakes, or whatever in the Capulet you want to call them, I decided I had to try it regardless of what other ones were in line. Sorry, Martha.
As I mentioned in the quest intro one of the differences between molten chocolate cake recipes is in the eggs. Lebovitz uses four separated eggs, as opposed to just whites, or more yolks than whites. (I think I might have overwhipped my whites a bit. That photo up there–that there will show you some whites beyond the “soft, wet peak” stage.) And Lebovitz sugars his ramekins. The result is a cake with a perfectly crystalline exterior. As for the interior–well it was saucy enough. Maybe a minute less in the oven would have meant more lavish sauciness.
This recipe calls for ten ounces of chocolate for six servings–more than any other recipe I’ve come across. The flavour is intense, just the way we chocolate lovers like it. Lebovitz recommends serving it with coffee ice cream or crême anglaise. I served it plain, which worked for me, but I think our guests would have liked a little something to temper the intensity. Something to remember for next time.
And, oh yes, there will be a next time.