I know molten cakes have become too trendy for their own good and are a cliché, but I'm in love with them. What's not to love about a warm chocolate cake with an oozing-melting center. I try to make different versions with a different center each time - coffee, caramel, raspberries, and now, cherries. Though these cakes have lost the wonderful surprise element they used to have, the different flavored center still manages to be unexpectedly delightful. Recipe idea credits go to David Lebovitz, Jamie Oliver and Melissa Kronenthal. —Heena
sweet dark cherries
1/4 - 1/2
stick cinnamon (depending on your preference)
whole star anise pod
kirsch or brandy
Cherry-Chocolate Molten Cakes
strained cherry sauce
pinch of salt
Additional butter and sugar for preparing the ramekins
Pit the cherries. (If you don't have a cherry pitter, a vegetable peeler works well. Insert at the stem end of the cherry and scoop out the stem and the seed.) Crack the cherry pits a bit (with a nutcracker or mortar-and-pestle).
Place the cherry pits, cinnamon stick and star anise pod in a cheesecloth and tie the ends shut.
Place the cherries, sugar, kirsch/brandy and the cheesecloth in a saucepan. Cook over moderate heat for 15-20 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Puree the cherry mixture in a blender. Strain and set aside.
Cherry-Chocolate Molten Cakes
Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler or in the microwave (in 15 second bursts) until the mixture is smooth.
In a bowl, mix 6 tablespoons of the chocolate mixture with 1/4 cup of the strained cherry sauce. Place in the freezer for 10-15 mins until the mixture hardens. When it does, use a spoon or melon baller to form 6 truffles. Place back in the freexer. Alternatively, just divide the chocolate mixture between 6 compartments of a small ice tray and place in the freezer to harden.
Whisk the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of sugar in the remaining chocolate mixture.
Generously butter six 6-oz ramekins, sprinkle with sugar and tap out the excess. Place the ramekins in the freezer.
Place the egg whites in a metal bowl. Add a pinch of salt and whip the whites with clean beaters until soft peaks just begin to form. Add the remaining sugar, a little at a time, beating well after each addition, till the mixture begins to form stiff peaks.
Mix in a ladle of the whipped whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
Fill each ramekin until it is about half-full with the chocolate batter. Place one frozen truffle in the center of each ramekin. Pour over the remaining batter making sure the truffles are covered. Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Remove the plastic wrap from the ramekins and bake in the center of the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes until the cakes are puffed and just baked in the center. Remove from the oven, let stand for a couple of minutes and unmould onto serving plates. Serve immediately with the cherry sauce and barey sweetened whipped cream or crème fraiche. You can also serve these in the ramekins; just warn your guests that it's hot. (Any leftover cherry sauce is great over icecream, cake, tarts.)