Waking up today, I couldn't be happier to be starting the month of February. Not only because it is unofficially the month of chocolate, but because January was a wild one. Political upheaval, an epic snowstorm here in Portland, and a general sense of things being off kilter. Not the usual refreshing start to the new year.
Even the ordinary, everyday tasks come under scrutiny. What is the use of food photography at a time like this? What is the point of baking and taking photos when there is so much else to be done? These days when everything feels so contradictory, when joy is followed by guilt, when frustration is followed by hopelessness, I'm trying to accept the dualism that will be here for longer than is comfortable.
So, I will protest and then bake up a storm. I will despair over the news and then laugh with Elena. I will take action and then remember to take care of myself. At least, this is my goal.
I've been testing variations of these chocolate molten lava cakes over the last weeks, which has been the perfect distraction when I need to take a moment off from the political world. I keep coming back to the recipe I originally developed for Sunshine Dairy, with a few adjustments especially with the technique. I found it's quite important to fold the chocolate into the egg mixture in a way that doesn't lose the air generated from the whisking. Watch the cakes carefully around the 8-minute mark so they don't bake through. Getting the cake to be truly molten, with chocolate oozing out the middle, is key.
Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes
Unsweetened baking cocoa
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
¼ cup drinking chocolate
4 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
⅛ tsp salt
2 ½ Tbsp all-purpose flour
Heat oven to 425°F. Butter and dust 4 ramekins with cocoa. Tap out the excess cocoa and let set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a simmer. Place a small bowl over the saucepan, making sure that it doesn't touch the water, and melt the chocolate and butter together with the drinking chocolate, stirring frequently until smooth. Let cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, vigorously beat the eggs together with the egg yolks, sugar, and salt until thickened and pale. Gently fold chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and then add the flour. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared ramekins and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the sides of the cakes are set but the centers are wobbly.
Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 minute, then cover each with an inverted dessert plate. Carefully turn each one over, tapping the bottom and slowly lift up the ramekin. Serve warm with a light dusting of confectioners sugar.