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Food

The best molten chocolate cake is also the easiest to make

Warm Valrhona chocolate cake
Serve these cakes with vanilla ice cream and, if you’d like, a chocolate wafer.
(Francesco Tonelli)

This is one of the essential recipes that helped elevate chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten to master chef status, and it will make you feel like one too. This five-ingredient molten chocolate cake is among his most replicated and imitated recipes at restaurants across the country.

Vongerichten wasn’t the first chef to make a chocolate cake with a molten center, but his version is the most copied in the United States. That’s because it’s so easy. The recipe started as a mistake — chocolate sponge cake wasn’t baked all the way through during a busy night at the restaurant — but the diners loved it. That was more than 30 years ago. Vongerichten’s molten chocolate cake remains on his restaurant menus and has become a new classic. You can get the exact same results at home. Be sure to serve it with a scoop of great vanilla ice cream.

Molten Chocolate Cakes

30 minutes. Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona, broken into pieces
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into four pieces, plus a little for buttering the molds
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, plus a little more for dusting
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Combine the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or in a medium saucepan set in a larger saucepan half-filled with simmering water over medium-low heat. Melt the chocolate and butter together.
  3. While the chocolate is melting, butter and flour four 4-ounce metal brioche molds or ceramic ramekins. Shake out excess flour, then put the molds on a baking sheet.
  4. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and flour with a stand or hand mixer until the mixture is pale and thick. When you lift the whisk, a ribbon of batter should fall on the surface of the remaining batter and stay there for a second.
  5. By now, the chocolate and butter should be nearly melted. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk gently until smooth. While whisking gently, add the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream. Whisk just until incorporated, then divide the batter among the prepared molds.
  6. Bake for 6 minutes. Pull them out and have a look. The edges should be set, but the center should be indented and a little wobbly. This is perfect. If you think the center is too fluid, return the tray to the oven for another minute. The good thing about this dish is that if you go too far, you wind up with a delicious brownie-like cake — it’s got so much butter it will never be dry — so mistakes on either end are fine!

Make ahead: You can make the batter ahead of time, pour it into molds and refrigerate them. Be sure to remove the cakes a good hour before you want to cook them so they come to room temperature.

Adapted from “JGV: A Life in 12 Recipes” by Jean-Georges Vongerichten with Michael Ruhlman.


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