I have served many desserts and pastries in my time and I can tell you that Moelleux au Chocolate is always a crowd pleaser. Mini chocolate cakes, fresh from the oven, dusted with icing sugar and beautifully garnished, encase a molten chocolate center. It always seems to charm people when they cut into their dainty little cake and reveal the fudgy interior.
Would it surprise you to know that these magical cakes come together so effortlessly that this is one of my favorite “go to” recipes when I’m short on time but must impress. In fact, if you plan ahead and make extra batter you can freeze the portion that you aren’t using in its ramekin and bake it off whenever you’re in the mood or have unexpected guests. Let me walk you through a few steps to help demystify the process.
First, make sure that your ingredients are at room temperature to ensure proper batter consistency
Second, generously butter your ramekins and line the bottoms with a parchment paper circle. Do not skip this step. One of the most intimidating parts of Moelleux au Chocolate is when it comes time to unmold the cakes. If you have properly greased and used parchment, unmolding the cakes will be a breeze.
Third, a lot of people hear the word double boiler and assume a recipe is complicated or that they don’t have the right equipment and give up before they even get started. Using a double boiler is actually quite simple. A double boiler is just a way to use steam to gently cook an ingredient or ingredients. If you don’t have an actual double boiler, no worries. Anyone with a medium-small pot and a slightly larger heat proof bowl can create one. Fill the pot a 1/4 full with water. Bring the water to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer. Place your ingredients in the heat proof bowl and place the bowl on top of the pot of simmering water (do not allow the bowl to touch the water). Cook your ingredients as specified by the recipe, in this case you just want to melt and combine the butter and the chocolate.
Fourth, in the final minutes of baking closely monitor your cakes. The cakes are perfectly baked and should be removed from the oven when the sides of the cake look firm, lighter brown and have begun to pull away from the sides of the ramekins. The middle of the cakes should look slightly darker brown than the sides and giggle a bit when tapped. This is the magic moment when you have baked cake and runny middles.
My last piece of advice is to use creative liberty once you have mastered the basic recipe. Make your Moelleux au Chocolate your own by adding different flavorings to the cake, using orange zest or various extracts. Garnish with wild abandon using nuts, berries, caramel, syrup, sauces, ice cream, mint leaves, candied citrus peel, etc.
A recipe is always slightly intimidating and more time-consuming the first time you use it, as are most things that you’re unfamiliar with. I promise you that once you try making Moelleux au Chocolate you’ll be delightfully surprised at just how easy and decadent it truly is!
Moelleux au Chocolate (Molten Chocolate Cake)
- 2/3 cup of unsalted butter plus more for greasing
- 4 oz dark chocolate finely chopped
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- pinch of sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso granules
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon of hazelnut or walnut extract if not using a nut extract increase the vanilla extract increase the vanilla extract to 1 teaspoon
- 1/4-1/3 cup of icing sugar
- 1-2 scoops vanilla gelato
- 1/4-1/3 cup of toasted chopped nuts
Using a double boiler or saucepan very gently melt the butter and the chocolate until completely dissolved and combined, stirring to make sure that nothing burns.
Meanwhile in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or by hand in a mixing bowl) beat together the eggs, sugar, salt, extracts, and espresso granules until pale, thick and ribbony.
Beat in the flour mixture just to combine.
Once the flour is combined, slowly pour the warm chocolate mixture into the batter while mixing vigorously. Continue mixing until the chocolate is fully incorporated.
Pour the batter evenly among the prepared ramekins and chill for at least one hour
Just before serving preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until the top is set around the sides and the middle is still giggly. A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out wet. Baking time is approximately 12-18 minutes..
Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to sit for 3-5 minutes before unmolding.
To unmold the cakes run a thin knife between the cake and the ramekin. Invert the ramekin onto a small serving plate. Lightly rap the top of the ramekin and unmold the cake. Remove the parchment disk.
Dust generously with icing sugar
Serve warm with vanilla gelato on the side and a sprinkle of toasted nuts
* To make in advance prepare the Moelleux au Chocolate batter and divide among the ramekins, cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. If frozen the baking time will be a bit longer.
Recipe NotesSpecial Equipment : 6-8 ramekins
Adapted from: Rachel Khoo