Finally, this post represents the last dish served at the dinner party I had last year! And of course I saved the best for last - the chocolate dessert! I served moist, chocolatey, cakey puddings, baked in single-serving ramekins, each topped with a scoop of premium-quality ice cream...yum.
The results of this recipe will be completely different depending on how long you allow the batter to bake. A shorter baking time results in a liquidy chocolatey pudding. A longer baking time results in a moist, somewhat cakey pudding resting over a liquidy chocolate pudding. Both variations must be served warm out of the oven. Both are delicious, but when I'm serving them for a dinner party, I usually bake them longer for a texture more people seem to be familiar with.
It's one of my favorite desserts, in part because it's chocolate, but also because it's easy, relatively inexpensive, and doesn't take a million ingredients. I also like it because portion control is easy, since it is baked in individual serving dishes.
Warm Chocolate Pudding "Cakes"
Butter or shortening, for greasing the ramekins
1/3 cup sugar, plus a little extra for the baking dishes
4 ounces semisweet chocolate (I usually use Scharffen-Berger 62% Cacao chocolate, but their 70% is also good in this recipe)
4 eggs, separated
a pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease six 4-ounce ramekins; coat with sugar, tapping out the excess. Place ramekins in a larger roasting pan, as shown below.
Roughly chop the chocolate.
Place chocolate in the top of a double boiler; melt over simmering water.
Once you're done melting the chocolate, keep the water on the burner, as you'll need boiling water later. Actually, you might need to add more water to the pot to boil because you'll need enough to be able to eventually pour boiling water into the roasting pan containing the ramekins, enough to where the water level comes about an inch up the side of the dishes.
Set the melted chocolate aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk 1/3 cup of sugar and the egg yolks together until incorporated. Whisk the melted chocolate into the egg yolk mixture.
In a large clean bowl, beat the egg whites and salt on high speed until soft peaks form.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in one third of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture.
Gently fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture, taking care not to deflate the egg whites. The result should be a pillowy batter. Do not overmix.
Spoon the batter into each ramekin, filling 2/3 of the way full. Return ramekins to the larger roasting pan; pour the boiling water into the roasting pan, enough to come up the side of the ramekins by about an inch. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-25 minutes.
After 15 minutes, the puddings will have puffed up and will barely be set. (The centers will still be jiggly.) If you take them out now, they'll be very moist but very delicious.
...Or, you can bake the puddings for 20-25 minutes, resulting in a somewhat cakier texture. (They will begin to pull away from the sides of the ramekins.)
The longer you bake the dessert, the cakier it will be...don't overbake it or they won't be moist anymore!
Do not turn the cakes out of the ramekins for serving. Serve them while they're still warm! Top each with a scoop of ice cream; add a whipping cream and mint garnish to dress it up!
Here's the more moist version, which I baked just today, topped with vanilla ice cream:
...and the somewhat cakier version, topped with chocolate ice cream and a garnish, which I served at the dinner party:
(That was a busy evening! Most of the dessert preparation pictures were not shot during that dinner party! However, somehow I had the presence of mind to snap a picture of my dessert before I took a bite of my dessert that night...my guests probably thought I was a little nutty...)