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Cuisine

No excuse needed to have cake for dinner

12/9/11 | By Paul Suplee

 I ate molten chocolate cake with homemade berry marshmallows for dinner. The kids ate leftover pizza. I’m not sure what my wife ate. 

After a long weekend at the Country Club, it was a day of taking kids to the doctor and dentist, and what better way to end a visit to the dentist than with a big, bubbly pile of chocolate?

After ‘dinner’ it was off to my trusty laptop on the back deck to write this masterpiece while mom and a couple of the kids tortured the others by locking them out of the bedroom in order to wrap Christmas presents.

With so much evidence on and in the house, it is becoming increasingly harder to avoid the fact that Christmas is but around the corner. It is annually amazing to me to realize that, while my wife is typically done shopping for the holiday in June, I start right about now. I assure myself that, as it is in cooking, consistency is the most important part of any relationship.

As I sit out here on the deck, something else strikes me.  We are well into the first week of December, it is after 8 p.m., and I am sitting on my back deck, comfortably, in shorts and a tee-shirt.  

But normal weather or not, let’s get back to the chocolate cake. I can take no credit for the recipe as it was passed on to me by good friend Chef Tim Elliot, Executive Sous at Bellehaven.

Incredibly simple to make, this is a no-brainer. When he offers it up with an Asian flare, he flavors the chocolate with cardamom and serves it with candied chilies.

As for the other recipe you will see this week, the one for marshmallows, I well-noted its source; Khymos.org.

Khymos is a fantastic site that offers instruction and education in all manners of food and wine, and they have a fairly solid collection of recipes related to molecular gastronomy; the fancy term for cooking with weird things. 

By weird I might mean agar-agar (derived from seaweed) or lecithin (found in egg yolks), or perhaps guar gum, maltodextrin, gellan or carrageenan.

But also included in this collection of the sideshow-substances are cornstarch and gelatin. Being hydrocolloids (substances that gel when hydrated properly), they come in handy when you are trying to attempt the new and super cool.

The easiest way to call yourself a ‘molecular cook’ or some other similarly dorky moniker is to just make marshmallows. 

From there, you may start with any other chemicals, easily found online from such sources as “Molecule-r.com”.

Soon, you will be the Tesla of taste; the Einstein of edibles.

Not one for overdoing the scientifically weird, I just roll through the day still feeling that I need to get my head wrapped around this whole cooking thing without the chemistry set. What’s next? Only time will tell.

Either way, I have molten chocolate in my stomach pleasantly satiating my soul, so I don’t care what’s next in the culinary world. Maybe in a year or two you can eat this page and taste what I cooked. It could be that weird.

Chocolate Molten Cake

10 Tbsp. Butter

8 oz. Dark Chocolate coins or chips

½ c. All Purpose flour

1 ½ c. Powdered sugar

3 whole eggs

3 egg yolks

1 tsp. Vanilla extract OR seeds from ½ a bean

2 Tbsp. Kahlua

Preheat oven to 425°F

Butter 6 6-ounce ramekins or cake tins and sprinkle with granulated sugar

Over a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and yolks until they are homogenous

Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and stir in the flour and sugar, mixing until smooth

Add the remaining ingredients and mix until it is smooth, but do not overmix

Divide the batter into the ramekins and bake for 10 minutes, or until the top is starting to darken

*The inside will still be gooey…but that’s the point!  Simply let the cakes set until cool enough to handle and tip out onto a plate.  Serve with ice cream, crème anglaise, berries, whipped cream, or anything else your heart desires

Marshmallows 1

400 g. Granulated Sugar

240 g. Corn syrup

60 mL water

21 g. Gelatin

120 mL water

1.5 g. Salt

15 mL Vanilla extract

Bloom the gelatin in 120 mL cold water in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whip attachment.  You must bloom it in cold water first before you expect it to absorb and dissolve into the hot water later

Boil sugar, corn syrup and 60 mL water until it reaches 250F or 120C

Slowly drizzle the hot sugar mixture into the bowl until fully incorporated

Whip for 12-15 minutes on high.  The mixture will have doubled or tripled in size and will be stark white

Add vanilla if you like.  You can also add cocoa powder and experiment with other flavors.  Pictured are berry marshmallows as well as traditional white marshmallows.  Both worked splendidly with the cake

Spray a non-stick pan and sprinkle with a well-combined mixture (50-50) of cornstarch and powdered sugar.  Marshmallows are a sticky mess, so don’t try to get tricky.  I did.  I lost.

1Texture – a Hydrocolloid Recipe Collection (v. 2.3 may 2010), Edited by Martin Lersch. p. 29.

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