minimalist baking: molten chocolate lava cake with raspberry coulis
I love minimalism. In fashion, in design, in home decor. And just...in life in general. There's something very striking about simplicity. It feels refreshing; the empty space is like splashing cold water on your face, but it feels inviting at the same time.
And after learning how to bake in my own kitchen, I have a new appreciation for people who owned old-fashioned bakeries, who didn't have the same kinds of gadgets or machines. Baking really was a labor of love, because there were no shortcuts or things available to make their lives easier.
That's kind of how I feel in New York, where you pay a lot of money for very little space. My family here doesn't own any baking supplies, which is to be expected—baking supplies are extremely specific, and it's really very difficult to justify owning any unless you're a baker. They're an investment all on their own.
So, suddenly enamored with the idea of making chocolate lava cake, most likely inspired by my second visit to Spot Dessert bar in my first The Californian Takes New York post, I had to make do with what I had.
I chose a simple recipe (only six ingredients and five steps!) created by master chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and decided to add a raspberry coulis from Epicurious and crushed-pistachio topping. I love the combination of chocolate and fruit (I'm a sucker for chocolate-covered strawberries) and raspberry and pistachio make a great pairing as well. Despite how fancy it sounds, it's actually a very easy to dessert to make, although perfecting it is another story entirely. I'm sure Jean-Georges Vongerichten has much more finesse than I do.
MOLTEN CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKE WITH RASPBERRY COULIS
Yields: Four 6-oz cakes (I actually only had three)
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
1 stick unsalted butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 egg yolks
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp flour
A pinch salt
Preheat oven to 450°F. Butter and lightly flour four 6-oz ramekins, tapping off excess flour and placing them on a baking sheet.
The recipe calls for a double boiler, but I didn't have one so instead I melted the 6 oz chocolate and 1 stick of butter in a medium saucepan (medium so it didn't burn) until it was half-liquid, half solid.
Then I shut off stove, and let the residual heat finish melting it. DON'T burn or overcook the chocolate; it will start getting fudgey, which you won't be to use.
In a medium bowl, beat the 2 eggs with the 2 egg yolks, ¼ cup sugar, and pinch of salt at high speed until thickened and pale (I didn't have a mixer, so I had to do it by hand...would not recommend as it took a lot longer than it should have).
Fold chocolate mixture into egg mixture and add 2 tbsp flour.
Spoon batter into ramekins and bake for 12 minutes (I would even say say 10 is okay too, especially if your oven is really hot).
Lava cake is basically a messier souffle, so when you take them out of the oven, they should resemble airy little puffs, which is why beating the eggs and folding in the chocolate is such an essential step.
Let cakes cool in the ramekins for one minute, cover each with a plate and flip. Let stand for 10 seconds, then carefully depot.
Serve immediately—the very best part of chocolate lava cake is seeing the gooey middle part ooze out when you carve out the first spoonful.
2½ cups fresh raspberries
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
Strain through a sieve to remove seeds (I substituted a colander).
Spoon over chocolate lava cake and serve. I added some crushed pistachios for contrast and color.
I may have been a little heavy-handed with the flour, which is why they didn't come out as pretty as I'd have liked. But covered in powdered sugar and dressed in raspberry coulis, you can't really tell.
Even if they didn't look that great, they were damn good. And extremely rich (just look at the ingredients). I couldn't even finish mine because it was too heavy for me.
Not sure why I keep making chocolate desserts when I don't even really like chocolate. But they look really impressive, which is why I would recommend these for any future fancy dinner parties you plan on hosting—you always hear that presentation is everything, and it's true. We eat partly with our eyes, which is why this culture of artisanal and experiential food has developed. This is a great dessert to make if you want something simple, yet beautiful. Minimalism at its best.
So, is it possible to make molten chocolate lava cake in the comfort of your home as a non-baker? Absolutely. Will it be a little more difficult? Yep.
Moral of the story: Minimalism is nice, but always have an electric mixer on hand.