I don't care that Top Chef judges and hosts consider molten chocolate cake an outdated dessert. It's simply spectacular if you use a good recipe and can be viewed as timeless rather than tired. It's also something that is pretty much universally uplifting just like playing with soap bubbles or eating ice cream or mac 'n cheese. When the weather turns from warm to cool and we look for a sense of comfort and warmth in our cooking this dessert works. Autumn is the time of year we open our homes more frequently to friends for dinner parties and I'm telling you this is a great way to end a meal with people you love. I warn you it produces very intimate moments like licking every crumb from your plate or spoon so hopefully you'll know your fellow diners well. Here's a look at my "Jean-Georges Molten Chocolate Cake".
My favorite chef is Jean-Georges Vongerichten (for a MULTITUDE of reasons) and this is definitely a variation on his recipe, which is one of the originals. This recipe was also published by Food&Wine magazine and online, so this is a rare case where I'm posting something that's not completely "mine". I take no credit for it other than loving it and sharing it with you.
Upon our return to NY this summer Mr. Scrumptious and I visited our favorite restaurant, Jean Georges, and it's possible that in my husband's opinion it was solely to eat JGV's famous cake. It happened to also be my birthday lunch, made more wonderful by a cameo in the dining room by The Chef himself. So, I'm sharing this as a tribute and celebration to my favorite Chef, in my favorite City, in my favorite Season. Enjoy this spectacular dessert and make sure to use the finest chocolate. My choice is Patric chocolate, which I wrote about when I discovered it last year. This is my tribute to a Master Chef and I hope you all enjoy it with gusto!
1. Preheat the oven to 450˚F. Butter and lightly flour four 6-ounce ramekins. Tap out the excess flour and discard. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet.
2. Fill a medium saucepan with two inches of water and place a bowl inside that is large enough to sit in the pan without touching the water. Bring the water to a gentle simmer but not a boil. (This is a makeshift double-boiler.) Place the butter with the chocolate inside the inner bowl and melt gently over the simmering water. In a second medium bowl, beat the eggs with the egg yolks, sugar and salt at high speed until thickened and pale yellow.
3. Whisk the chocolate and butter until silky smooth and shiny. Quickly fold the melted chocolate into the egg mixture, add the flour and fold until incorporated.
4. Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins and bake for 9-10 minutes, or until the sides of the cakes are firm but the centers are soft. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 minute, then cover each with an inverted dessert plate. Carefully turn each one over, let stand for 10 seconds and then unmold by tapping gently on the bottom of the ramekin until the cake slides out on the plate.
5. Serve immediately.
This cake is "molten" because the batter in the middle isn't fully cooked, nor is it meant to be. If you want it gooier, bake it a minute or two shorter. If you want it firmer, then longer. Part of the joy of this cake is that it's not fully baked so don't use the "toothpick comes out clean" trick. If you do and you bake it that long you've over-baked the dessert and missed the entire point!
You can garnish with sifted confectioner's sugar, vanilla bean ice cream, fresh berries or nothing at all. In any variation, the cake is fabulous!