I’ve been making these for nearly 13 years now. This is adapted from an old Martha Stewart recipe; so old, in fact, that you cannot even find it online. Shocking. It’s from a dessert cookbook from the late ’90s that I’ve used so much, the pages are falling out and it has chocolate splatters on it. Very cliché, I know, but that’s a sign of a good cookbook. And as much as one might like to poo-poo Martha, the woman has it dialed in. Her recipes are delicious, and they work. I’m pretty sure her army of staff would die if those criteria weren’t met.
The reason it’s taken me years to post the recipe is merely due to my stubbornness. I like to shoot the food I post in natural light, so late at night after a long dinner with family or friends doesn’t allow for natural light unless you live on the north pole in June. So, I give. And honestly, this is exactly how your cakes will look, in lamp light, because you’ll be eating them after a a fabulous dinner and wow-ing your guests with this show stopping dessert.
What’s nice about this dessert is that there is NO wheat flour in it. I’m all for gluten, but I know that many people are discovering that gluten is of the devil. Martha, who could care less about people’s digestive complications, created this recipe with ground almonds for the flavor, before almond “flour” even existed. Imagine my delight, when it finally dawned on me that I could stop pureeing almonds for the recipe and just grab that sack of almond flour I keep on hand. Felt like cheating, except it’s the same darn thing and a more consistent texture.
Also I should note that Martha named these “Warm Chocolate Cakes.” I wonder if her team stayed up all night trying to work that one out. When they say “no idea is a bad idea” while brain storming, we all know that’s a load of bull. These are too beautiful and too decadent to be called such a name, and so I prefer the Americanized French description of small chocolate cakes with molten ganache centers… “gâteaux” are just trés sexy. And for all the effort (yes, this one requires a bit more than the usual cake), you want a name that lives up to it’s dessert!
Petits Gâteaux au Chocolat with Sugared Raspberries
recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Desserts cookbook (1998): “Warm Chocolate Cakes”
Note: You will need 8, 4-5 oz. ramekins for this recipe. I suggest making the ganache cubes a day or two before you make the cakes. One less step to rush later and it only takes 5-10 minutes to do. In fact, this recipe can be prepped several days in advance: all you need to do is bake the frozen cakes before serving them and just have your raspberries, mint and cream ready.
- 14 oz. best-quality bittersweet chocolate (I shoot for around 65% or on up to 72%)
- 6 Tbsp. heavy cream
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 5 large eggs, separated
- 10 Tbsp. sugar (I use baker’s sugar…finer than regular sugar)
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 c ground almonds (hello, almond flour)
- confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar) for dusting
- pint of raspberries
- 1/3 c or so of white granulated sugar
- 1 egg white
- 2 cups heavy cream, whipped
- mint sprigs for garnish
- Chop 2 ounces of chocolate into small pieces and place in a small bowl. Pour the cream into a small saucepan, and set over medium heat. Cook until bubbles appear around the edges. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and let stand 2-3 minutes; then whisk until smooth. Pour the ganache to fill (or almost fill) 8 squares of a plastic ice-cube tray. Freeze until solid.
- Butter 8 ramekins (that hold 4-5 oz) and place the ramekins on a baking sheet. Set aside.
- Melt the butter and the remaining 12 ounces of chocolate in a heat-proof bowl or the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly.
- Combine the egg yolks, 6 Tbsp. sugar, and the vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until thick and pale yellow, about 8 minutes. Add the warm chocolate-butter mixture, and combine thoroughly. Fold in the ground almonds. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
- In a clean mixer bowl (that you just washed), beat the remaining 4 Tbsp. sugar with the egg whites until stiff…VERY stiff. Just turn that mixer on and go check your email for a few minutes because you want these egg whites as stiff as they will be. Then, with a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
- Spoon about 2 Tbsp. of batter into each ramekin. Remove the ganache cubes from the freezer (dip the bottom of the tray in hot water to release them, if necessary). Place a ganache cube in the center of each ramekin. Spoon 2-3 Tbsp. of remaining batter into the rings, covering the ganache cubes completely, using all the batter. Smooth the tops of each cake with a small knife. Freeze filled ramekins until solid, about an hour or so.
- Meanwhile, cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat the egg white with a fork in a small bowl or wide mouth cup. Using a pastry brush, dip the brush into the egg white and “paint” the outside of a raspberry, then immediately sprinkle all over with the white sugar. I inserted the end of a rounded tea spoon (a real tea spoon, used for tea or coffee, not the one you eat your cereal with…a tiny spoon) into the raspberry so it was on a sort of pole which made the painting and sprinkling easier because my fingers weren’t in the way. See what you have lying around that might work for a little raspberry stand. After you have painted and sprinkled, gently set the berry on the parchment paper. Repeat this with as many raspberries as you’d like to garnish your cakes with… I think 3 looks nice on each cake. After you have sugared your berries, you’ll need a cool place for them to set for an hour or two. The refrigerator works, if you have room, or just a cooler place (not near your hot oven) in the house.
- Heat oven to 375ºF. Remove the baking sheet from the freezer and transfer to the oven. Bake cakes until they have puffed slightly over the tops of the ramekins, 20 to 25 minutes (I bake for 25 at high altitude). Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack; let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
- While cakes are baking, whip your cream so it’s soft and but not so soft it runs easily. Have your mint sprigs ready to go!
- Once cakes have cooled slightly, garnish with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, a dollop (or quenelle) of whipped cream, a sprig of mint, and a few sugared raspberries and serve.