Oct 10, 2010

Molten Chocolate Souffle and Lava Cakes

Before trying this recipe of Rose's, I had made lava cakes twice, from the same recipe.  The first time they turned out perfectly. The second time, I must have baked them just a hair longer because there was no lava at all. They were just chocolate cakes, and a little dry to boot. Thinking that they were one of those things that would only turn out right when you didn't really care, I decided to stay away from them. So I was a little tentative about baking them again. When I found out that these lava cakes didn't rely on underbaked cake batter for their moltenness, I was very happy. It's a better concept, I think, and you're not at the mercy of your oven timer.
The first thing to do is to make the ganache, the star of this particular cake. And a chance to make ganache using the egg carton technique, a first for me. The ganache is, of course, just melted chocolate and warmed cream, mixed and poured into the individual egg containers, after they're first lined with plastic wrap. I had enough ganache to make 9 little balls, but I was confident the other two wouldn't be wasted. Into the refrigerator they went.
The technique for making the cupcakes was slightly different than I've done with any of the other cakes (at least that I remember doing), but it's quite simple. Warm up and mix chocolate, cocoa, and butter.
Then mix up egg yolks and creme fraiche. Why is it that no matter what kinds of eggs I buy, the yolks always weigh less than they're supposed to and the whites always weigh more? Do we only have runty little egg yolks in Minnesota?
At this point Jim asked me if this was a flourless cake. Only then did I realize there was no flour in this recipe. He asked if that meant it was going to be really rich. I said I didn't think so, because of the beaten egg whites that I was mixing in with the chocolate. And, in fact, the batter went from deep chocolate to soft, light chocolate.

As it turned out, I had too much batter for seven cupcakes. I could have made nine. Too bad, though, because I'd already given Jim what I thought was the extra ganache egg, so I didn't have enough for nine. I made the six-pack of cupcakes and two larger ones made in glass custard cups.
Jim's birthday was Wednesday, but I had no cake for him on Wednesday, so this turned out to be his birthday cake. Not the best picture, but you get the idea.
I really enjoyed this cake. I think the liquid ganache center is much nicer and more foolproof than relying on a not-quite-done cake. It's chocolate, but not in-your-face chocolate, and the small cupcake-size was just the right-sized serving. I'm not sure that chocolate lava cakes will still be around in another ten years (although cookie-dough ice cream is still with us), but this version could easily become a standard.



Jan: "Delicious! And it's also light."

Laurel: "Very pretty to look at, and not too sweet."

Jim: "It's got a nice chocolate flavor. I got to eat the extra truffle, and I loved it."


Lois B said...

You're right, Marie. This is the perfect size.

Mendy said...


Happy Birthday Jim!

I love the idea of a cake that only works when you're not interested.

Sarah the Bear said...

Your cake looks delicious! And happy birthday to Jim! My mom's birthday is tomorrow, so my cake is dedicated to her even though she's 3000 miles away.

Vicki said...

Your's looks the way I wanted mine to turn out. I do think Rose using ganache is ingenius.

Melinda said...

The molten chocolate cake dessert is big here. Done poorly most of the time, in my opinion. I don't like hot uncooked cake batter, so to me, it is just wrong. But everyone dog and cat are making this recipe.
I do thick the idea of proper ganache oozing out of a light cake. So if I make this dessert, this will be the recipe I'll be using!
Your little cakes look darling.
Happy Birthday to our Jim! (I hope you were naughty, Jim. x)

Melinda said...

Think rather than thick...silly me!

evil cake lady said...

happy birthday jim!

marie, portland eggs have the same problem!!

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

Happy belated birthday to Jim!!

Your cakes turned out very well Marie. I'm not a fan of the uncooked center of most molten lava cakes, so I didn't even consider making these. It wasn't until I started reading the everyone's reviews that I realized these didn't fall into that category. I love the idea of a ganache center!!


Patricia @ ButterYum said...

Oh, and I have the same problem with store bought eggs. Lately I've been buying a lot of eggs from a lady who raises her own chickens (free range), and those yolks are larger.


Katya said...

I also have an automatic aversion to this kind of dessert, especially because it's very difficult to get anyone to eat anything a pointe in my house, they just don't gather eagerly around the table, although chocolate cake might make it happen. I do have some leftover ganache from the tomato cake, though. Anyone for secret ingredient lava cakes? Maybe tonight.

Marie said...

So much daintier than eating a big slab of cake or pie!

Zen baking--only when you stop trying to succeed will you have success.

You're a good daughter!

If Jim was naughty on his birthday, he hid it successfully from me. (But maybe that's the whole point?)

I'm glad to hear that it's not just Minnesota that has wimpy eggs. (Of course, those are two left-leaning cities).

The melted ganache center is really a good idea--it's not only a surprise, but it's tasty as well.

Oh, those people who insist on carrying on conversations instead of moving into the dining room. I have them too. They do seem to pick up the pace for dessert.


Hanaâ said...

Happy belated birthday, Jim, and many more!

Marie, your lava cakes look awesome. Nice and oozy! I’m totally kicking myself for skipping this one. Like ButterYum and others, I don’t like eating uncooked cake batter, which is what most Molten Lava Cakes are about, so I didn’t even bother looking at the recipe to see that this one is different. The fact that it has no flour would have been perfect since I’m trying to include some gluten-free recipes in my repertoire now that a couple coworkers are gluten-intolerant. Will definitely be making these soon!

(still kicking myself!)

Monica said...

I have to second everyone here, your cake looks cute and totally like the one in the book.

Side note: HAPPY BIRTHDAY (belated) Jim!

And since we are talking about birthdays.. my mom's was this past sunday (XXX) and she did not want a chocolate cake, instead she asked for my tres leche cake (not rose's) so, while you guys were in chocolate heaven, I was in Condensed Milk heaven.

But, I reading and thinking that this one may have a chance on the "free choice".

Vicki said...

Ditto for California eggs.

Ditto for Jim's birthday!

Marie said...

Thanks for the reminder that this is a naturally gluten-free cake!

Nice of you to bake your mom a birthday cake! At least she didn't make you bake a cake with fruit.

Maybe it's Rose's Manhattan eggs that are abnormal.

Jenn said...

Happy Birthday Jim!
I thought the cake looks pretty Marie. That 1st picture, with the cake partially eaten looks so tempting.

I'm glad you had a good result with this cake!

PS: There's runty eggs in Colorado too, the egg yolks always weigh less. Even if I buy the extra large eggs, sometimes their yolks are teeny-tiny.

Anonymous said...

Did we ever hear from Rose or Woody about the caramel?

marie said...

This makes me think that not only is Manhattan the Big Apple, it's also the Big Egg!

No word from Rose or Woody yet on caramel issues, but they're both still out of town. I'm going to see Woody this weekend, so I'll be sure to pick his brain.

Andrea said...

Marie, your cakes looks perfect!

Eggs are the one thing that I know I should weigh, but I don't because I'm not quite sure how to add a partial egg or remove part of it. I don't know if it should come from the yolk or white or a little of both.

evil cake lady said...

Andrea, you could separate your eggs so that you can weigh them separately and know if you need more yolks or less whites (see my bias there). Sometimes when I am feeling lazy I won't separate my eggs, but since I know that there is always more than 30g of white per egg (and less than 18g of yolk) I just remove egg whites.

Marie said...

I never used to weigh eggs, but then someone I won't name raised his eyebrows at me and said, "You know you really should." And then when I found out that the yolk was disproportionately small but the whole egg was always a few grams heavy, I just remove some extra egg white.
And frankly, now that I read this, it sounds a little crazy.

Andrea said...

ECL and Marie, thanks! I will try separating and weighing the eggs next time.

Shandy said...

Happy belated birthday Jim! The individual lava cake with a single candle looks too cute. I was doing the happy dance over baking up these little cakes and having them actually behave. I made it through the whole weekend without having to talk to myself once over a cake step issue.

Monica said...

Marie.. even if she would have choose a fruit cake, I would have gladly baked it for her.. and then promptly refuse to eat a piece :)

Marie said...

No talking-tos after cake issues--that is good news!

So funny!

Jim said...

Thanks for all the birthday wishes! And it wasn't even a big one like next year's will be.

faithy said...

Hey, my comments i left a few day ago got eaten up..and lost in cyberspace..lol!

Happy Birthday Jim! :D

Marie, i love the shape of your cake..looks very professional looking just like the ones serve at the restaurants.

jkcurtis said...

LOVE the first picture of your cake.