Hello! Chef BigFatPanda here!
Please forgive me for being away for so long. Life took hold of me and wouldn’t let go. I am sure you’ve been there. I am so delighted to bring you this new installment of decadent Chocolate Pleasure. The following is from Disney’s Contemporary Resort’s California Grill — Chocolate Lava Cake!
Let me share with you that this appears to be an easy straightforward recipe, but it was tougher than it looked. I try to choose recipes that are approachable and not very intimidating. While this is all those things, the effect of the “lava” is something that can easily be messed up. The good part, and why I urge you to try it, is that the worst thing that can happen is that you have a delicious chocolate cake with no lava.
As usual, the recipe’s instructions will be bolded for easy reference should you wish to print this out and skip my commentary. How could you though, seriously?
8 1-ounce semisweet chocolate squares, chopped
or 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 whole sticks of butter
5 egg yolks
4 whole eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly butter sides of 6 individual (3/4 cup) ramekins. Lightly coat with sugar, shake out excess.
I got some nice Corningware ramekins at Wal-Mart. They were sold as a set of four for around $12 and really looked stylishly more expensive than that. I opted to get my hands dirty like a real chef and butter up my ramekins with my fingers. You can easily spray them with Pam though.
2. Melt chocolate and butter in top of double boiler set over simmering water. Stir until smooth. Remove from over water and cool 10 minutes.
If you don’t have a “double boiler” set, you can make one using a deep pot and a smaller pot that is able to be floated safely in the larger pot. Using cold water, test how much water will be needed in the larger pot to float the smaller pot without water spilling over the sides. Then boil it up and place the smaller pot with ingredients to be melted into it. There is something heavenly about melting Chocolate and Butter together. Oh, I know what it is – it’s the fact that you’re melting Chocolate and Butter together! MMMmmm
3. Beat egg yolks and whole eggs together in a large bowl; add sugar and beat until thick and light, about 2 minutes
As I was making this recipe, like many cakes, I had a realization that it’s basically a Chocolate flavored scrambled egg. I mean, really now – look at these ingredients. It’s a lot of egg and a bit of other things. Make sure you read the recipe correctly. Another way to look at it is 9 egg yolks and 4 egg whites.
4. Fold in chocolate mixture.
Folding is basically mixing while keeping more air in the mixture than would be released with a violent stir. Using a spatula or large spoon, slowly layer in the Chocolate. You will be incorporating the ingredients together while maintaining a level of airy fluffiness in the mixture.
5. Sift flour, then fold into batter, mixing until smooth.
6. Divide batter among prepared cups, filling 3/4 full.
A secret suggestion I have is to fill one ramekin with slightly less batter than you’re supposed to and save this batter (lava) as an emergency stash in case you end up lava-less.
7. Place on a baking sheet and bake about 35 to 40 minutes or until sides of cake are set and middle is still soft. Do not overbake.
8. Using a small knife, cut around sides of cakes to loosen. Invert onto plates and serve with your favorite ice cream.
See that “Do not overbake”? This is very important. The goal is to bake the outside of the cake, leaving the inside somewhat raw to create the lava effect when it’s cut open.
Let me stress that this is VERY hard to accomplish. Why? Because a cake like this must be removed from the hot ramekin at the precise temperature where the cake is solid enough on the outside to be neatly removed and raw enough on the inside to create the liquid lava center. If it is allowed to cook for just a few minutes more, you will have a solid chocolate cake. Still not a bad result, but don’t call it a Chocolate Lava cake.
After 25 minutes, I had a feeling that the 35 to 40 minute estimate was way too much. I took out a cake and I was literally spot on. It was perfectly done. I took the rest out right away and it was too late for them. So, I got one great Chocolate Lava cake and many other chocolate cakes.
I do not understand how they could be so off on their time as I double-checked my standard ramekin size and oven temperature. My suggestion is to make MORE than you need and test early on and remove them ASAP. If you fail with the “lava,” pour some on and tell people that “You meant to do that!”
These were absolutely delicious with or without lava. A Vanilla Bean ice cream (one with those black vanilla bean specks) is the best choice here. The hot cake with the Vanilla ice cream is just beyond words. It’s sinful and something you feel privileged to enjoy.
Please let me know if you try this, or have tried this, and what you thought. I am very interested in learning if you achieved Lava Nirvana or not.
Big Hugs to all of you and keep wishing on those stars! I promise not to be away for too long next time. I am thinking a good entree next – yes?
Thanks again, John! Watch for Chef BigFatPanda’s column posts right here! Looking forward to that entree!