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Make an intense molten chocolate cake at home

Fallen Chocolate Cake. This recipe appears in the cookbook, "The Perfect Cake."
Fallen Chocolate Cake. This recipe appears in the cookbook, "The Perfect Cake."

Fallen chocolate cake, or molten chocolate cake, is an undercooked-in-the-center mound of intense, buttery chocolate cake. We wanted to turn this restaurant-menu standard into a practical recipe for home cooks.

Beating the egg whites and yolks separately and then folding them together as some recipes instruct resulted in a cottony cake; we found that beating the eggs with sugar to a foam and then folding them into melted chocolate delivered cakes with the rich, moist texture we wanted. A mere 2 tablespoons of flour did an able job of holding the soufflé-like cakes together – any more and the cakes were dry, with no fluid center.

Finally, we wanted to ensure that these decadent desserts would arrive at the table hot and still molten; happily, we found that we could prepare the batter ahead of time, refrigerating the filled ramekins until ready to use and then placing them in the oven to bake during dinner. You can substitute bittersweet chocolate for the semisweet; the flavor will be slightly more intense.

Fallen Chocolate Cakes

Servings: 8

Start to finish: 1 hour

Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped coarse

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

4 large eggs plus 1 large yolk, room temperature

1/2 cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Confectioners’ sugar

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease eight 6-ounce ramekins and dust with cocoa. Arrange ramekins on rimmed baking sheet. Microwave chocolate in large bowl at 50 percent power for 2 minutes.

Stir chocolate, add butter and microwave at 50 percent power for 2 minutes longer, stopping to stir after 1 minute. If chocolate is not yet entirely melted, microwave for an additional 30 seconds; set aside.

Using stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip eggs, yolk, granulated sugar, vanilla and salt on high speed until eggs are pale yellow and have nearly tripled in volume. (Egg foam will form ribbon that sits on top of mixture for 5 seconds when dribbled from whisk.) Scrape egg mixture over chocolate mixture, then sprinkle flour on top.

Using rubber spatula, gently fold egg mixture and flour into chocolate until mixture is uniformly colored.

Divide batter evenly among prepared ramekins. (Unbaked cakes can be refrigerated for up to 8 hours. Return to room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.)

Bake until cakes have puffed about 1/2 inch above rims of ramekins, have a thin crust on top and jiggle slightly at center when ramekins are shaken very gently, 12 to 13 minutes. Run thin knife around edges of ramekins to loosen cakes.

Invert each ramekin onto plate and let sit until cakes release themselves from ramekins, about 1 minute.

Lift off ramekins, dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

• Nutrition information per serving: 318 calories; 153 calories from fat; 17 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 161 mg cholesterol; 108 mg sodium; 33 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 14 g sugar; 9 g protein

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