I Love Chocolate

by Stephanie Zonis


Little Snowballs

Petites Boules de Neige
12 servings in total


Individual portions of a rich, dark, flourless chocolate cake are baked in foil muffin cups, chilled, peeled, then inverted and covered in whipped cream, hence the "snowball" effect. Nice for an ending to a Passover meal, and, unlike a large cake, you needn't serve all of these at once. They'll keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days if stored airtight, and they freeze well. They are not too sweet and very definitely chocolate.

You'll need a standard muffin tin, with cups 2-1/2 inches in diameter. You'll also need foil muffin cups; I haven't tried to bake these in paper muffin cups, but my guess is that, because the boules are baked with steam to keep them moist, the results would not be good. If you don't want to use liqueur, substitute an equal amount of pure vanilla extract. I have made these both with and without liqueur, and they're delicious either way.


4 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 ounces best-quality unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter,
    cut into thin slices
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. water
3 eggs, graded "large",
   at room temperature, beaten to combine
1 Tbsp. vanilla OR a compatible liqueur,
    such as orange or coffee

For Serving:
Heavy cream
Superfine granulated sugar

Finely shaved OR grated semisweet chocolate
Mint leaves
Fresh raspberries OR orange slices


Adjust one rack to center of oven and another to lowest position in oven. Have ready a 13 by 9 baking pan, at least 1-1/2 inches deep; if pan is aluminum, sprinkle about 1 tsp. cream of tartar into bottom to prevent discoloration during baking. Have ready enough simmering water to fill baking pan about an inch deep. Have ready a standard (cups of 2-1/2 inch diameter), 12-cup muffin tin; line each cup with a foil baking cup. Set all aside.

In medium heatproof bowl, combine finely chopped chocolates and butter. Set over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl); stir often until about half-melted. While chocolate mixture melts, combine sugar, salt, and water in heavy-bottomed small saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high; stir often until mixture just comes to a boil. Remove from heat.

Remove chocolate mixture from heat and hot water. Stirring constantly, gradually pour hot sugar mixture into chocolate mixture; stir or whisk gently until smooth. Cool 15 to 20 minutes, stirring or whisking occasionally.

While chocolate mixture cools, pour simmering water into 13 by 9 inch pan to a 1 inch depth. Carefully set on lowest rack of oven, then preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

When chocolate mixture has cooled (it may still be slightly warm), add beaten eggs in three additions, stirring or whisking after each just until incorporated (you don't want a lot of air in this batter). Finally, stir in vanilla or liqueur. For ease in handling, transfer to liquid measuring cup or small pitcher of at least 3 cup capacity (there will be about 2-3/4 cups batter).

Divide batter evenly among foil cups (cups will be about 3/4 full). Prick any obvious air bubbles in batter with toothpick or tip of hot knife. Bake in preheated oven for 14 to 15 minutes. At the end of that time, the edges of the individual boules will have risen, while the centers will be sunken and look uncooked. Do not bake any longer. Remove to cooling rack. Cool until just warm. During cooling, edges of boules will sink somewhat; center will still be sunken—OK. These won't look great now, but don't worry.

Refrigerate boules, still in muffin tin, until cold. When cold, remove boules from tin (leave in foil cups for now). Store airtight in refrigerator for up to 5 days; freeze for longer storage.


For Serving:
If these will be served for Passover, confectioners' sugar cannot be used to sweeten the whipped cream, as it contains cornstarch. If you do not have superfine granulated sugar, make your own by processing regular granulated sugar in a food processor fitted with a steel blade until it is finely ground. If the boules have been frozen, defrost, still in wrappings, in the refrigerator. Decide how many boules you want to serve and remove them from the refrigerator. Gently peel the foil cup from each, then gently invert each onto a dark-colored serving plate (don't forget they'll be covered in white whipped cream). Cover each boule tightly with plastic wrap (don't squash it) and leave at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes. It's important to get the chill out of these if you want the fullest chocolate flavor.

While boules stand, figure out how much cream you'll need. In my kitchen, 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of superfine sugar is enough to cover 4 boules. Chill a small or medium bowl (depending on how much cream you'll be beating) and beater(s) from a mixer for at least 20 minutes during the standing time of the boules.

Beat cream at high speed in chilled bowl with chilled beater(s) until you can see traces of beater marks in it. Add sugar. Continue beating at high speed until cream stands in very stiff peaks. Working quickly, cover top and sides of one boule at a time with a thick layer of whipped cream, dividing cream evenly among boules. I spread the cream with a flat knife or the back of a spoon. Mound cream into a snowball shape if you wish. Sprinkle each boule with a bit of finely shaved chocolate; garnish with mint leaves and a raspberry or orange slice (keep the decorations minimal and dainty). Serve immediately!


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Copyright © 2001 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.

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This page created April 2001