I’m busily testing recipes for my new book, which involves lively, everyday stories of the French cook The recipes are from my friends and acquaintances, avid cooks, professionals, moms, dads, farmers, businesspeople. I collect them, I test them, I ask myself the ever-present question: “Will my readers love this as much as I do?”
I need your assistance! I’m going to publish the recipes here from time to time. If you want to try them, do. Tell me how you like them. Some of you may be able to tell just from reading the recipe whether you’d like it. All comments are welcome. I’ve got my official U.S. “tester” working on them too.
I’d love for you to tell me how you recreate your vision of French cooking in your kitchen, too. This is for my own interest, of course – I like to know what you’re up to.
So, for the first recipe from this marvelous collection, I’m actually offering two. Both are for the cake that is voted Most Popular with the French, year after year. It is for a Moelleux au Chocolat, or Molten Chocolate Cake. (The literal translation of moelleux is moist; but you’ll see that depending on how you bake the cake, it is either molten or moist, and can be both!).
Here are the recipes. If you decide to make one or the other you should know there are no tricks – both are simple. The only thing to pay careful attention to is the percentage of chocolate. A lower percentage means more sugar and fat, which can change the texture of the cake. So, heed my recommendations, and all will be well!
MICHEL’S MOELLEUX AU CHOCOLAT
This recipe is from Michel Amsalem, a professional patissier who loves to fool around in his home kitchen, making cakes that taste like heaven. We spent a lot of time discussing ‘moelleux’ and he tested this recipe on his customers before calling me to share it. It’s delicious.
You can also use chocolate that is 62-65 percent cacao. If you can find this type of semi-sweet chocolate, use just that rather than the two different percentages. The margin of baking time is large – the shorter time results in an almost runny center for the cake; the longer time gives a more solid, but still very soft interior. Either way, the cake is luscious!
½ cup (75g) all-purpose flour
1 large pinch fine sea salt
7-1/2 tablespoons (217g) unsalted butter
5 ounces (150g) 52 % chocolate, finely chopped
5 ounces (150g) 70% chocolate, finely chopped
6 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225g) vanilla sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Edible flowers, for garnish, such as pansies, primroses, forget-me-nots
1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Butter and flour a 9-1/2 inch (22.5cm) spring form pan.
2. Sift together the flour and the salt onto a piece of waxed or parchment paper.
3. In a small, heavy-bottomed pan melt the butter over medium heat. Place the chocolate in a large, heatproof bowl. When the butter is melted, pour it over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate has melted into the butter.
4. In another large bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar just until thoroughly combined – do not whisk them to a pale yellow. Whisk in the chocolate and the butter mixture, then quickly whisk in the flour and the salt. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, set the pan on a baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven until the edges of the cake are baked but the center is still soft and tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
5. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing it from the mold and transferring it to a serving platter. Dust the cake with the confectioners’ sugar, and garnish with the flowers if desired.
6 to 8 servings
MICHEL’S MELTING CHOCOLATE CAKES
GATEAUX MOELLEUX DE MICHEL
This is another version of “Moelleux,” developed with the help of patissiser Michel Amsalem as well.
¼ cup (30g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (30g) rice flour
Generous pinch fine sea salt
7 tablespoons (105g) unsalted butter
3.5 ounces (100g) bitter chocolate (70%), such as Valrhona brand, diced
2 large eggs
7 tablespoons light brown sugar
6 squares of either semi-sweet or bitter chocolate (about 1.5 ounces total; 40g)
Confectioners’ sugar – for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Butter 4 ramekins.
2. Sift together the flours with the salt onto a piece of waxed paper.
3. Place the butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. When it’s melted, add the chocolate and stir until it is melted. Remove from the heat.
4. Whisk together the eggs and the sugar in a medium-sized bowl until they are frothy and pale golden, which should take about 5 minutes. Don’t over whisk – you don’t want the mixture light and fluffy.
5. Quickly whisk in the dry ingredients, then mix in the butter and chocolate.
6. Fill each mold half full with batter. Place a square of chocolate on the batter, then cover with the remaining batter. Bake in the center of the oven until the cakes look cooked on top and have a slight hump in the center, about 14 minutes.
7. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes and up to 10 before serving. They are very HOT!
4 molten chocolate cakes