I know, I know! Molten Chocolate Cake, or Lava Cake, as it is sometimes called, is so YESTERDAY. I’m almost perturbed today when I see one on a dessert menu.
I mean, really, can’t the pastry chef think of SOMETHING ELSE? Haven’t we moved beyond warm, fragrant, oozing, fudgy chocolate soufflé cakes and their requisite ice cream accompaniments?
At the esteemed Paley’s Place Bistro in Portland, Oregon, Chef Vitaly Paley told me that he doesn’t dare remove his famous Warm Chocolate Soufflé Cake with Toasted Hazelnuts & Honey-Vanilla Ice Cream from the menu. There would be an uproar.
At the famous, now long gone, Heathman Restaurant they served Chocolate Gourmandise, a flourless, molten, Guittard chocolate cake, for decades. I expect that it stayed on the menu so long for the same reason that Chef Paley cited. Diners demanded it.
There was a time in the not so long ago past when nearly every trendy restaurant in Portland had a molten chocolate cake on the menu. In true Portlandia style (obsessive, compulsive, weird), I sampled most of them.
At Clarklewis, I devoured Flourless Milk Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Chestnut Honey.
At Clyde Common, I dove into Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake with Sherry Raisin Ice cream, Cocoa Fudge Sauce & Hazelnuts.
At Jo Bar, it was Wood Oven Baked Molten Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce and Crème Anglaise.
At Oba! (now closed) Cinnamon-Chocolate Volcano Cake with Caramel Crème Fraîche Ice Cream.
At Paragon (now closed), Flourless Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Bean Anglaise, Blackberry Coulis, Whipped Cream, and Fresh Blackberries.
At Tabla (now closed), Chocolate Truffle Cake with White Chocolate Crème Anglais.
At Toro Bravo, simply Molten Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream.
At Urban Farmer, Warm Chocolate Cake with Vanilla-Champagne Sorbet & Blood Orange.
At Giorgio’s, Warm Soft Chocolate Cake with Homemade Caramel Ice Cream.
At Fenouil (now closed), Chocolate Soufflé Cake with Mint Ice Cream & Peppermint Cacao Lollipop.
At Sel Gris (now closed), Chocolate Overdose: Fallen Chocolate Soufflé, Chocolate Rum Mousse, Chocolate Glaze & Cocoa Nibs
Come to think of it, I have every right to be a little perturbed by Molten Chocolate Cake. If it’s on the menu, I am simply unable to order any other dessert.
But you don’t have to hit the best restaurants in town to enjoy this wonderful cake. It’s super easy to make. When I originally developed this recipe, it came as a wonderful surprise to learn that the batter would hold in the frig for days. I baked two tiny cakes each evening until the batter was gone. How fantastic to have a hot, oozing chocolate dessert with virtually no effort. What a boon for a dinner party!
Warm-Spiced Molten Chocolate Cake
This is quite possibly the best molten chocolate cake in the world, or okay, at least in Portland. The evocative spicing takes it over the top. You must, of course, use the best quality bar chocolate you can get, as the success of this simple dessert depends on it.
To bake these cakes, you need six, ½-cup capacity custard cups or similar-sized baking dishes. If you plan to unmold the cakes, they look best on the plate if they’re slightly pyramidal in shape (wider at the base) when turned out.
I purposely limited the size of these cakes. You want guests clamoring for more, not struggling to eat the last, incredibly rich, bite.
½ cup unsalted butter
6 ounces premium-quality, bittersweet chocolate (75%-85% cacao solids), chopped
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups powdered sugar, in a sifter
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour, in a sifter
Accompaniments, optional (and highly recommended)
powdered sugar, in a sifter
heavy cream, plain or softly whipped
premium quality ice cream
- In a saucepan over very low heat, melt the butter and then stir in the chocolate until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together whole eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla.
- Sift powdered sugar over top of egg mixture, a bit at a time, whisking to incorporate each addition.
- Add melted chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.
- Stir in coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and white pepper.
- Sift flour over the batter a bit at a time, whisking to incorporate each addition. If you add flour in a heap, without sifting it in slowly, you may get a few lumps.
- Put batter into a plastic container with a tight lid and refrigerate until ready to bake. The batter keeps for days this way, and you can bake off one individual serving at a time if you wish.
- When you’re ready to bake, butter individual custard cups heavily, pour batter into custard cups, and arrange on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake at 425° for 13-15 minutes if batter is room temperature and a couple minutes longer if it’s cold. Less baking time will yield a liquid center, while just a minute or two longer will yield more of the cake texture around the sides and a fudgy interior. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes.
- To serve, set custard cups on dessert plates, or unmold cakes on dessert plates by putting the plate on top of each custard cup, and then invert the dessert plate and custard cup together in one quick flipping motion. Lift the cup off the cake. Sift powdered sugar over each cake before serving.
- If desired, accompany with a generous quantity of plain or softly whipped cream, or ice cream.
Makes six, ½-cup capacity cakes.
More LunaCafe Chocolate Cakes & Tea Loaves
- LunaCafe Chocolate Recipe Archive
- Bittersweet Chocolate & Cabernet Butter Cake
- Chocolate Almond Pound Cake
- Heavenly Chocolate Beet Tea Loaf
- Chocolate Ginger Chipotle Stout Cake
- The Wonderful World of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- All Chocolate!
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Copyright 2012-2020 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.