Who doesn't like a lava cake? Properly made, they are light clouds of rich chocolate with an oozing core of molten ganache. While easy to whip up, they do require a reliable oven and careful attention to timing. However, even if you miss the mark a little as I did with these, they still taste wonderful. Chocolate with chocolate, butter, cream, sugar, flour and eggs, what's not to like?
These were another book club dessert. They preceded a spirited discussion on home-schooling that nearly resulted in the dissolution of the book club. As spirited discussions are no strangers to my family's get-togethers, I was surprised to hear several of the participants were too upset to want to continue to meet every six weeks or so. I like to think I could even be civil with Dick Cheney were we to get together once every six weeks, although I would ask him to check the shotgun at the door. Matter of fact, it would be my pleasure to serve this dessert to Cheney, but he'd have to get his own transportation to the hospital if it triggered yet another cardiac arrest ; )
The book we had read for that night was The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver. Since much of the book is set in Mexico, I prepared a Mexican meal for the night. To give a Mexican twist to the lava cakes, I adapted a Ghiradelli recipe by adding some cinnamon and ancho chile powder to the molten centers. Both complement the chocolate nicely and are not in such quantities that they overpower the chocolate, remaining more a back note than a jarring blast.
(makes 2, can easily be doubled or tripled)
for the molten centers
1 ounce dark chocolate (I used Trader Joe's Pound Plus 72% Belgian Dark Chocolate Bar)
2 TBS whipping cream
1 tsp ancho chili powder (available in Mexican markets and many supermarkets)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 ounces dark chocolate
1/2 stick butter (4 TBS)
scant 3 TBS sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBS cake flour
To make the centers, melt the chocolate and whipping cream in a double boiler or in the microwave. Stir in the ancho powder and cinnamon until completely mixed. Chill this mixture in the refrigerator. When chilled, form into two balls.
Preheat the oven to 400º F. Butter 2 six-ounce ramekins.
Melt dark chocolate and butter together in double boiler or microwave. Whisk to thoroughly incorporate the butter into the chocolate.
In a small mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to whisk egg, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla until light, about 5 minutes. Gently fold in the chocolate mixture and flour until just incorporated. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared ramekins. Press a chocolate ball into the center of each ramekin.
Bake about 10 minutes, until cakes are firm. (My oven is terribly erratic, making it a guessing game each time as to when the cakes will be done, anywhere from 7 to 12 minutes. ) Let cakes sit on a rack for 3 to 5 minutes. Run a knife between the edge of the cakes and the ramekins. Invert a plate on each ramekin, flip plate and ramekin over, remove ramekin and serve. Garnish with powdered sugar, raspberry coulis and fresh raspberries.