A recipe came along that perplexed me. A "cake" with gooey center that is supposedly as rich as it is messy. So... just unbaked batter, then? Well, kind of. More of a flourless chocolate cake/pudding, this dessert works because, let's face it: it's mostly just chocolate.
My first attempt was from a terribly misguided recipe that tried to make a cross between a pudding and a soufflé. There were beaten egg whites folded in and bubbles and it was just wrong wrong wrong. Spongy and airy, it wasn't what I wanted at all (and, to top it off, I must've cooked too long because it was done all the way through!) This, of course, was the one I made to test out on my friend. She said it was good but c'mon; I have taste buds too. She's a very very good friend.
SO. Cut my losses and tried a different recipe. I went out on a limb and made the one from Nigella Lawson's baking cookbook which was, to be fair, my inspiration to make them in the first place. I was a little gun shy the first go after that last one done all the way through (defeating the very name of the dish) so I undercooked this one. Recognized my mistake but it didn't matter; they TASTED completely different. Rich, SO chocolatey and Mmmm. Tried one last time just to get it right and voila! Used full cooking time (do not be afraid to let these babies go the entire 12 or 13 minutes; they're so thick, they're not going to cook too quickly like some airy concoction. They came out absolutely perfect: gooey and so full of flavor! I served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream but the recipe suggests anything from a crème fraîche to whipped cream. It certainly needs it. VERY very chocolatey. But it's definitely on my keeper list. Woo!
MOLTEN CHOCOLATE BABYCAKES
From How To Be A Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson
1/4 cup soft unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
12 ounces best bittersweet chocolate (OR semisweet which I used)
1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 individual 6-ounce custard cups, buttered
1. Unless you are making these up in advance, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, putting in a baking sheet at the same time. Lay 3 of the custard cups on a sheet of doubled baking parchment. Draw round them, remove, and then cut out the discs as marked. Press them all into the base of the cups.
2. Melt the chocolate and let it cool slightly. Cream together the butter and sugar, and gradually beat in the eggs and salt then the vanilla. (Don't mind if it looks curdled at this point; it'll smooth out later.) Now add the flour, and when all is smoothly combined scrape in the cooled chocolate, blending it to a smooth batter.
3. Divide the batter between the 6 custard cups, quickly whip the baking sheet out of the oven, arrange the cups on it and replace in the oven. Cook for 10-12 minutes (the extra 2 minutes will be needed if the puddings are refrigerator-cold when you start) and as soon as you take them out of the oven, tip out these luscious babycakes onto small plates or shallow bowls. Serve these with whipped cream, the same unwhipped in a pitcher, crème fraîche, custard or ice cream.