The secret to home-made "molten lava" chocolate cake is to chill the batter once you have it ready. You can prepare it any time and even freeze it. Actually, it scoops much better when it's been allowed time to chill. The other key point is that at 325 F, cooking time is normally 10 to 12 minutes, but you can vary the time depending on your desired level of gooiness versus cake. (I prefer to have it a touch undercooked, so I remove it right at 10 minutes.) Finally, make sure that whatever you bake it in has been buttered and floured very well.
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½ cup unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp of all-purpose flour
1 cup strawberries, cut in half
2 honey tangerines, segmented (regular oranges are fine)
Zest of one honey tangerine
1 tbsp of sugar
Pulp of ½ a vanilla bean (optional)
Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water. Do not boil, as this will burn the chocolate.
In a bowl over hot water, beat eggs, egg yolks and sugar until whisk leaves a thin trail when pulled away. You are looking to have the eggs and sugar double in volume; it will be almost like a light foam. Temper the egg mixture with ¼ cup of the melted chocolate. Fold tempered egg mixture into chocolate, sift in the flour and incorporate well. Cover and refrigerate for up to one hour.
Combine the strawberries, tangerines, zest and sugar with the vanilla. Mix well.
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter and flour four large metal muffin-tin moulds. Spoon the chocolate mixture into the moulds evenly, until they are each ¾ full.
Bake for 10 minutes or until the top is slightly springy to the touch. Remove from moulds and unmould. Divide the strawberry and tangerine mixture onto four plates. Place the cakes on top, and serve. You may also serve with vanilla ice cream or, for a twist, try sour cream.
Rob Feenie is the Food Concept Architect at Vancouver's Cactus Restaurants Ltd.