What makes the perfect dessert?
For me, the perfect dessert needs to have lots of differentiating elements. Sure, sometimes simple desserts are crazy delicious, but that's not what I crave. (Don't be fooled, I'll gladly eat your simple desserts, too!) To get into my secret club of perfect desserts, a dish needs to meet the following requirements — it needs to be rich, but not too heavy. Sweet, but with a nice balance of flavors. A mixture of hot and cold is a must. Always gooey and always creamy. That's it.
A few nights back, I decided that I had to create the dessert to end all cravings. After lots of tweaking, I emerged with a face full of chocolate and six little molten lava cakes just waiting to be penetrated. (I went there.) These aren't just any old chocolate fondants; I made them to taste just like hot cocoa. After unsuccessfully experimenting with baking whole marshmallows and later, marshmallow creme, into their centers, I decided on making a toasty marshmallow ice cream from scratch to top them off. So worth extra trouble and the "oh shit did I just cook my eggs with steaming hot milk?"
These cakes are the perfect dessert indeed. And here's why:
Rich: The chocolate content in this is totally through the roof. As much as I hate the word sinful for it's food-shaming quality, these are pretty damn sinful.
Not-too-heavy: Despite the chocolate bomb,
Sweet: Though most molten cakes are made with bittersweet or semisweet chocolates, the inclusion of Callebaut milk chocolate and hot cocoa powder makes these cakes perfectly sweet.
..... but balanced: You might be thinking that's too sweet, but think again! I went to TOWN blowtorching my marshmallows for my ice cream. Seriously, give a Graham a blow torch and he'll make sure things are all kinds of toasted. The slight char of the 'mallows adds a smokey quality that really compliments the sweetness of the lava cakes.
Hot,: It's served immediately out of a 425 degree oven....
yet simultaneously Cold: ....and then I throw a big ole scoop of homemade ice cream on top.
Gooey: A single swipe of a knife through the center results in a giant pool of gooey uncooked chocolate billowing out from the cake's center.
Creamy: The custard base of the ice cream is extra-thick and creamy. You don't know euphoria until you've experienced ice cream rapidly melting onto a river of hot chocolate. That's what's up!
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Hot Chocolate Molten Cakes
- 8 oz. milk chocolate
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 3 whole eggs + 3 egg yolks
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 0.7-oz. packages instant hot cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 425 F and grease six 6 oz. custard cups.
In medium bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt together the chocolate and butter until combined. Once thoroughly mixed, remove from heat. Stir in the flour and sugar. Mix in the eggs and the yolks and whisk until smooth. Fold in the vanilla and instant hot cocoa powder.
Divide the batter into the prepared cups and bake for 12 minutes. The edges of the cake will be cooked, but the middle may look a bit runny. Remove from cups and serve immediately with ice cream.
Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream
(adapted from this)
- 5 large egg yolks
- 2 cups (470 ml) whole milk
- 1 cup (235 ml) heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup (66 grams) sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 9 ounces (200 grams) marshmallows
- To make the custard base, combine the whole milk and sugar in a saucepan over medium high heat. Heat the mixture until steaming and bubbles appear at the edges, do not boil. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks in a large bowl. Slowly add the heated milk mixture to the egg yolks while whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened and coats the back of a spoon, stirring frequently. Pour mixture through a mesh strainer into a large bowl. Add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Set aside.
- Spread the marshmallows out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Toast the marshmallows with a kitchen torch or an oven broiler. If you use a broiler, place the oven rack as high as possible and watch the marshmallows very closely to ensure they don't burn. Rotate the marshmallows so that they are evenly toasted on each side.
- In a blender, add the custard mixture and the toasted marshmallows and puree until smooth. Chill completely in the fridge. Freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Let harden in the freezer for an addition few hours before serving.