Winter-spiced molten chocolate cakes with rum-ginger ice cream

I virtually never make cake or cake-like things, so I was intrigued when I saw this recipe, in large part because it looked much simpler than most cake recipes and because I loved the presentation of individual cakes. We had a friend coming for dinner, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try out this long awaited recipe (I even bought the appropriate-sized ramekins just to try this dessert!).

Recipe

from Bon Appetit Desserts
Makes 8

Ice cream
1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
2 tbsp chopped crystallized ginger
1 tbsp dark rum

Cakes
14 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
1¼ cups unsalted butter
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp freshly ground white pepper
6 large eggs
6 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
powdered sugar
crystallized ginger strips

Ice cream: Place softened ice cream in medium bowl. Using spatula, fold ginger and rum into ice cream. Transfer to air tight container. Freeze ice cream mixture until firm, about 4 hours.

Cakes: Generously butter eight ¾-cup soufflé dishes. Stir chocolate, butter, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and white pepper in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Cool slightly. Whisk eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Whisk in powdered sugar, then chocolate mixture, then flour. Transfer batter to prepared dishes, filling to top. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 425 F. Bake cakes until batter has risen above sides of dish, top edges are dark brown, and center is still soft and runny, about 15 minutes (or about 18 minutes for refrigerated batter). Run small knife around cakes to loosen. Allow cakes to stand in dishes 5 minutes. Place small plate atop 1 dish with cake. Using oven mitts or pot holders, hold plate and dish firmly together and invert, allowing cake to settle onto plate. Repeat with remaining cakes. Sift additional powdered sugar over cakes. Top with crystallized ginger strips. Serve cakes with rum-ginger ice cream.

Musings

A few notes on preparation: I cut this recipe in half, largely because there’d only be 3 of us and because I only have 4 ramekins. I also only had bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), so that’s what we used. Baking time for our oven was 14 minutes.

It was, in a word, scrumptious. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the dessert was to put together and the delicious dividends you end up reaping. I was also happy that we managed to achieve the “molten” aspect of the dessert. The ice cream was a nice–I might even say necessary–touch, as it counterbalanced the heavy, sumptuous taste of the cakes with a refreshing lightness. The myriad of spices also lent another pleasing dimension, as it wasn’t just chocolate in and of itself. Each of us got our own cake, but I could safely say that, particularly when served after a big dinner, you could happily split one cake between two.

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