Soft Chocolate Mini Cakes

Dinner guests are always thrilled when you serve them their own little warm chocolate cake. The molten mouthfuls never cease to bring smiles and praise. While not supersweet, my version has a deep chocolate flavor and is rich enough to share. I leave room on my palate for a dollop of whipped cream or other cool topping. The success of these cakes depends on two things: the best-quality chocolate and not overcooking them. You want the centers to be almost runny.

Appears with permission from Williams-Sonoma Good Food to Share: Recipes for Entertaining with Family and Friends. Recipes by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan; photographs by Ray Kachatorian. Copyright 2010 by Weldon Owen Inc. and Williams-Sonoma Inc.

 

Soft Chocolate Mini Cakes

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    Ingredients

    5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, plus more for greasing 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped Pinch of sea salt
    1/2 cup sugar 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    2 large eggs Whipped cream, crme frache, or vanilla ice cream for serving

    directions

    Total:
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    • 1

      Position a rack on the lowest level in the oven and preheat to 400°F (200°C). Lightly butter six 1/2-cup (4 fl–oz/125-g) ramekins.

    • 2

      Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over (not touching) simmering water in a saucepan. Heat until melted, then stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat until thickened, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low. Gradually sprinkle the flour over the batter and continue beating just until combined. Using a spatula, fold the egg mixture into the cooled chocolate mixture until combined.

    • 3

      Divide the batter among the prepared ramekins. Place the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the tops are puffed and dry and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with some soft batter clinging to it, about 10 minutes.

    • 4

      Serve the cakes hot, in the ramekins, or inverted onto individual plates (right). Top with a dollop of whipped cream, if you like.

    • 5

      Dress it up: These small, dense chocolate cakes look especially beautiful when served unmolded. Line the bottom of each ramekin with a parchment-paper round, then pour in the batter. (This lining step is painstaking, but the cakes will unmold more easily.) Bake as directed, then remove from the oven. Immediately grasp a ramekin with a pot holder or thick towel, run a thin-bladed knife around the inside edge to loosen the cake, and invert the cake onto a small plate or into a small bowl. Peel off the parchment and serve.

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