Samui Wining & Dining
Dessert Island

Chef Luigi at Olivio Italian restaurant shares his interpretation of the classic Hot Chocolate Cake.

 

5I’m a huge fan of chocolate cake; particularly the warm, slightly gooey variety. On menus you’ll find it described variously as hot chocolate cake, molten chocolate cake, chocolate volcano or chocolate lava cake but basically they’re very similar. For some reason, the best ones I’ve eaten have been in Italian restaurants and on Samui I’m rather partial to Chef Luigi’s variation at Olivio Italian restaurant at Baan Haad Ngam Resort, in northern Chaweng.

This dessert is often described as soufflé-like, cake-like, brownie-like, mousse-like, and pudding-like, and that’s because it has all of those characteristics. With a texture that’s both dense and moist, these types of cakes will rise beautifully as they bake (like a soufflé), but once they are removed from the oven they’ll slowly deflate. When making them you can use individual ramekins, molds, custard cups, or even muffin tins. The cakes can be served in their molds but if you want to remove them from their cups before serving, it’s important to generously butter each mold so the baked cakes release easily onto your serving plate. Here’s a reasonably straightforward recipe that you can make at home.

 

Hot Chocolate Cakes

(serves four)

 

Ingredients

½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

6 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces

3 large eggs, separated

1/3 cup granulated white sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/8 tsp cream of tartar

1 tbsp granulated white sugar

 

Method

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place the rack in the centre of the oven. Generously butter 4 x ¾ cup (180 ml) molds, ramekins, or custard cups and dust the insides with granulated white sugar. Place the prepared molds on a baking sheet and set aside while you make the chocolate cakes.

In a stainless steel bowl suspended over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from the heat and set aside while you whip the egg yolks. In an electric mixer beat the egg yolks and 1/3 cup (65 grams) of sugar until thick, pale, and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and then fold in the melted chocolate mixture.

In another clean bowl, whip the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to whip until soft peaks form. Gradually add the tablespoon of granulated white sugar and whip until you get stiff peaks. With a rubber spatula or wire whisk gently fold the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture, just until incorporated. Do not over mix or the batter will deflate. Divide the batter between the prepared molds, filling about 3/4 full. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the outside edges of the cakes are set but the middle still looks a little wet. You may have cracks on the top surface of the cakes which is perfectly normal.

Immediately remove from the oven and let them rest for a minute or two. Run a palette or sharp knife around the edge of each cake and then invert onto the centre of each serving plate. Carefully remove the mold and sprinkle the top of each cake with confectioner’s sugar and place a dollop of softly whipped cream, clotted cream, crême fraîche or vanilla ice-cream on top of each warm cake.

 

Note: You can prepare the chocolate mixture several hours ahead of time. Simply make the recipe, pour into the prepared molds, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bake just before serving. When the batter is cold the cakes may take a minute or two longer to bake.

 


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