What’s for Dessert: Molten Chocolate Babycakes

Click here to go to recipe on nigella.com

Thanksgiving went off without a hitch — well, if “without a hitch” can include a last-minute panic that there wouldn’t be enough wine and liquor in the house, and flowers would be nice, and Costco closes in an hour, so go, go, GO!

One good thing about having a large-ish number of guests over is that by playing your “what can I bring?” cards correctly, you eliminate the need to cook most of the food, because someone else will be bringing it.* This year, here’s what I was responsible for, foodwise: turkey, drinks and desserts. Everything else (including red wine!) arrived with a guest.

So I had lots of time Wednesday night to do things like “casually” place the table settings (estimated time: 1.5 hours, including washing of glasses and flatware) and make the desserts — panna cotta, of course, and these hot little chocobombs. I found the recipe in Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, which is a nice amalgam of food porn and actual doable recipes. (Until now, I had only tried the iced gingerbread, which also is particularly good.)

I made half a batch last weekend on a test run and they turned out good enough that I knew I had a winner. An added bonus is that you can make up the batter the night before, portion them out into the cups and keep them in the refrigerator until it’s time to pop them in the oven.

The recipe is super easy — a total of six ingredients, most of which you usually already have in your cupboard. (I was so excited about this one that I took the picture at right Tuesday, before I got started. Then I realized that I couldn’t leave the butter or eggs out overnight and had to put them back in the refrigerator, and cover everything else with parchment paper for a night.) The only thing I had to buy was bittersweet chocolate — and again, the chips are the way to go, since you need tiny chunks for easy melting anyway. (Added bonus: One bag of chips is exactly the amount you need for this recipe … plus a few for snacking.)

One tip: On my test run, I melted the chocolate in a saucepan on the stovetop, which was a mistake. (I was busy trying to get ahead, cracking and whisking eggs, when I realized my back had been turned too long, and by the time I whirled around the chocolate on the edge of the pan had burned.) Melting chocolate in a microwave is much easier; put the power at 50% or less, and stop it every minute to stir. I think mine took two minutes.

Also, on my test run I mixed everything using just a fork and elbow grease, but for the final version I pulled out an electric mixer, to make sure everything was as good as it could be.

Cooking time is 10–12 minutes, although it took closer to 15 for mine because they were so chilled from their overnight stint in the refrigerator. That gives you time to whip cream, should you feel so inclined.  Even the unmolding is relatively simple; thanks to the baking parchment, the cakes literally fall out of the ramekins, and peeling off the paper is easy, too.

(The hardest thing for me was trying to remove the inverted oven-hot glass dish from atop the plate. A silicone baking pad or other heat-safe item with a bit of grip would be a vast improvement over the standard cotton potholder or dishtowel that I was trying.)

They were, as most things with bittersweet chocolate and a wee bit of sugar should be, delightfully tasty. And they made a nice companion dessert to the panna cotta, for both contrast (vanilla/chocolate,  chilled/molten) and aesthetic similarity (size, shape, presentation). The best of both worlds.

* In fact, I bought 2.5 pounds of baby asparagus, thinking I would serve it as an additional vegetable, but completely forgot about its existence until this morning at work.

WHAT SAM WORE: 11-28-11
The shirt: Long-sleeved corduroy shirt by Martin Gordon, from Last Chance.
The pants: Dark-wash jeans by William Rast for Target.
The belt: Wonder Woman print belt by Too Cute!, from the now-defunct Vivi’s Boutique in Chandler.
The shoes: Custom All-Stars by Converse, a gift from Funny Michael.

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