MELTED-CENTER HOT FUDGE CAKES
Servings/Yield: 10 servings
Butter for greasing ramekins, plus 7 oz (13/4sticks) butter, cut into chunks
7 (1-oz.) blocks good-quality semisweet chocolate
1½tsp . vanilla
1 teaspoon flavor extract (your choice: mint, orange, rum, brandy, etc.)
2 tablespoons water
•½c . plus 1 Tbsp sugar
4 eggs plus 4 egg yolks
•½c . plus 1 Tbsp flour
Heavy cream for serving, whipped if desired
A day ahead of serving
Heavily grease the ramekins (easier to do well if you melt a Tbsp or so of butter and brush it into the ramekins). In a medium saucepan over very low heat, melt together the 7 ounces of butter and the chocolate, stirring frequently until all is melted. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, your choice of flavor extract and the water.
Meanwhile, in the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, eggs, and egg yolks. Beat at high speed, scraping down the bowl occasionally, for 6 minutes or more, until the mixture is pale yellow and it flows off the raised beaters in a single wide ribbon that dissolves slowly on the surface of the mixture.
Add the chocolate mixture without stirring, and sift the flour over the top. Gently but thoroughly fold all together with a wide spatula, being sure to frequently scoop up from the very bottom of the bowl, until the mixture is essentially uniform.
Pour into prepared ramekins (fill to1/8inch or so below the edge). Put them on a cookie sheet, cover all with plastic wrap and refrigerate. (Don't worry if the wrap sags and touches the chocolate mixture.)
Before serving, preheat oven to 400°. Remove plastic. Bake the sheet of ramekins, still cold from the refrigerator, 14 minutes (or 12 minutes if baking immediately, without refrigeration). The wet spot in the middle of the tops should have just baked over. Allow to stand for 2 minutes (very necessary), then slide a thin knife around the outside of each, cover each with a dessert plate, invert and shake to dislodge the cake. Lift off ramekin and scoop out any cake that remains inside.
Serve immediately, with cream (whipped or pourable) for guests to add.
Note: If you're uncomfortable about the inverting, or if it's not going well, serve the cakes in the ramekins (but be aware that they'll continue to bake and might not be as gooey in the middle; call them soufflés).
You'll need individual 6-ounce ramekins (or other smooth-sided oven-safe cups) for this recipe. You make it a day ahead and bake right before serving. This is good enough to become a standard feature of your holiday dinners for years to come. Adapted slightly from a Delia Smith recipe.
© Barbara Deitch 2020