The fad of melting chocolate cake is all around us. We like the idea, but we were determined to create a version that didn't rely on half-cooked batter for the melting effect. The trick we came up with is inserting a truffle into the batter just before baking. These cakes can be baked ahead of time and reheated, and the truffles can be made in advance and frozen. The truffle recipe actually makes 8 truffles, so the cook gets a nice little bonus. To serve the truffles on their own, you can double or triple the recipe, using any alcohol you prefer in place of the Cognac; dust the finished truffles with cocoa powder.
3-1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon egg yolk
3 tablespoons heavy cream
4 teaspoons Cognac
To Make the Truffles
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water (don't let the water touch the bottom of the bowl or the chocolate will get too hot). Remove from the heat and add the egg yolk. Whisk until just blended, being careful not to overmix, or the chocolate will become stiff and hard to work with. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and the Cognac just to a boil (if your saucepan is shallow, the Cognac may ignite; just blow it out carefully). Whisk the cream mixture into the chocolate mixture until smooth and shiny. Transfer the mixture to a smaller, deeper bowl. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Using a large melon baller, form 3/4-inch balls from the truffle mixture. Flatten the shaped truffles slightly into fat discs and refrigerate until ready to use. (The truffle mixture will keep, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons pastry flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg white
To Make the Tuiles
In a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and honey until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, sugar, and cocoa, then add it to the butter mixture while mixing on a very slow speed. Once incorporated, add the egg white and mix to form a batter. Transfer to a smaller container and refrigerate until cold.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make a template to spread the batter over. To do this, find a large disposable plastic container approximately 1/32 inch thick. Cut a large square piece from the side of the container, then cut out a triangle shape from the square that measures about 5 inches long on two sides and 3 inches long on the third side. If the plastic starts to roll up too much, plunge it into a pot of boiling water for a minute to soften, then press between 2 pans with some weight. Use a silpat-lined baking sheet pan, or butter and flour a baking sheet pan. Lay the template down at one end and with a small spatula spread the batter to evenly fill the form. Make one final pass with the spatula in a single gesture to smooth. Carefully remove the template and repeat as many times as will fit on the baking pan. Make a couple extra in case some break (they are fragile). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are very dark brown and a little roasted at the edges. While they are baking, lay out a few large cans (about 6 inches in diameter) and brace them with a utensil so they don't roll. Remove the tuiles from the oven and immediately drape them over the cans so that they make a delicate arch. They form quickly. Remove from the cans and repeat until all the tuiles are formed. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons plus 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, sifted
1 pint espresso ice cream
2 tablespoons unsweetend cocoa powder for dusting
To Prepare the Cakes
Preheat the oven to 325 defrees F. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler over barely simmering water (don't let the water touch the bottom of the bowl, or the chocolate will get too hot). Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until the sugar dissolves. Whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, then gently whisk in he cornstarch just until blended. (Don't overwhisk, as too much air in the batter can cause the cakes to rise and fall too sharply.)
Line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper. Place six 4-inch-diameter by 1-inch-high rings or 8-ounce souffle dishes on the paper. Divide two thirds of the batter among the 6 rings or dishes. Drop a truffle into the center of each ring or dish and cover with the remaining batter until the mold is three fourths full. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tops have formed crusts but the cakes are still soft to the touch. If serving the cakes immediately, let them cool slightly so that the rings can be easily removed by pushing the cakes up through the rings (this will keep the edges of the cakes from being broken off). If using souffle dishes, leave the cakes in the dishes. Let cool completely if serving later.
If necessary, reheat the cakes in a preheated 350 degree F. oven for 3 minutes. Carefully remove the rings and transfer the cakes to one side of each serving plate using a solid metal spatula. (If using souffle dishes, serve the cakes in the dishes.) Place a tuile, short side on the plate, against the cake (the arched point should be over the cake). Place a small scoop of espresso ice cream on the other side of the tuile.
Cooking from the Heart of Napa Valley
by Hiro Sone & Lissa Doumani
Ten Speed Press
Hardcover, 240 pages
Price: $40.00 (CAN $63.95)
Recipe reprinted by permission.
Check out the Global Gourmet's Special All About Chocolate page.
This page created April 2003
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