Molten chocolate cakes {recipe review}

By | December 26, 2013

molten chocolate cakes 1.jpg

This is the second of two recipes that I’m testing and reviewing from Levana Kirschenbaum’s The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen. You can see the first one right here.

Molten chocolate cakes will always make me think of seminary, which was somehow nine years ago. It was the same scene, over and over: parents would come visit, they’d take a group of girls out to dinner, and everyone would come back talking about the hot chocolate cakes they’d ordered for dessert. The few times I was part of such a group, for whatever reason, there were no hot chocolate cakes in sight. (Though there was one memorable meal at which all 10 girls ordered milkshakes. Not for dessert — for the drinks.)

When I saw Levana’s recipe for molten chocolate cakes, I knew it was finally time to try my hand at them. It didn’t look like it would be too difficult, but here’s the thing — I got totally tripped up by the baking time, and when it comes to molten chocolate cakes, it’s all about the baking time.

Levana says to bake the batter in ramekins for 12 minutes and then invert one onto a plate to test it. When I did that, my plate was filled with raw batter. No problem, she writes. If that happens, just scoop it back into the ramekin and return them to the oven. Seven minutes later, they were still completely raw. Fourteen minutes later, they were still completely raw. After 20 extra minutes, I took them out for good, but sadly, somewhere between 14 and 20, they crossed the line from “totally raw” to “no longer molten.”

Where did that leave me? Fortunately, still with a wonderfully delicious dessert. Straight from the fridge, they had a rich, dense, fudge-like brownie feel. Cooled in the fridge and then reheated, they managed both a rich chocolate flavor and a light, airy texture.

So molten chocolate cakes and their baking time still elude me. If you’ve had success with these or something like them, please share your secrets.

Recipe at a glance:

  • Accessible ingredients? Yes, all pantry items.
  • Multiple steps required? Melting the chocolate, etc. / beating eggs and sugar / combining and adding the final touches / baking. Not the simplest dessert, but not the craziest.
  • Left with lots of dirty dishes? Kinda, but making individual servings of cake in ramekins will do that to you.
  • Taste worth the effort? Yes and no. They were delicious, no question, but I missed the mark on the molten.
  • Make again? Maybe, if I can figure out the baking time thing.

Update: The following is Levana’s comment about my trouble with the cakes’ baking time.

Many recipes instruct you to bake them 400 degrees for 8 minutes, sometimes even 450 degrees. The risk with that is, if the cook’s oven temperature runs too high, they will be calcinated. Only a professional cook with rigorously exact temperatures can risk these high temps for something so delicate. So my compromise in developing my recipe was, medium high temp, longer time. Preheated 375 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes. If you baked it for 2 or even 3 times this time, my guess is: your oven temperatures must be checked by an oven technician.

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Levana on December 26, 2013 at 3:17 pm.

Tali my recipe is 100% tried and true. The instructions I give in my book and my blog take the cook step by step. I can’t even tell you how many times I (and many of my fans have made it, my way, with great success. If you go online and look up baking time for molten cake in any reputable recipe, you will find mine is a totally conservative time, and the dessert is indeed ready with its ideal trademark gooey center texture and barely firm sides.


Tali Simon on December 26, 2013 at 3:33 pm.

I appreciate your input! Hope to nail it next time.


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