If you prefer a soft, molten
center, remove the
cakes from the oven 1 to 2 minutes before the end of the required cooking
time. Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Dessert, by
Abigail Johnson Dodge (Simon & Schuster, 2002).
Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly butter six
3/4-cup ramekins and dust with cocoa powder. Set the ramekins on a small
In the top pan of a double boiler, combine the chocolate and butter. Set
the pan over but not touching barely simmering water in the bottom pan and
melt the chocolate and butter, then whisk until the mixture is glossy and
smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Set aside
to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks, 3 Tbs. of
the sugar, and the cocoa powder on medium-high speed until
thick. Spoon the chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture and beat until
well blended. The mixture will be very thick.
In a bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed
until they are very foamy and thick. Sprinkle in the remaining 3 Tbs.
sugar and increase the speed to high. Continue beating until firm, glossy
peaks form. Spoon half of the beaten whites onto the chocolate mixture and
whisk in until just blended. Add the remaining whites and stir gently
until just blended. Spoon into the prepared ramekins, dividing evenly.
Bake the cakes until they are puffed and the tops are cracked, 13 minutes.
The inside of the cracks will look very wet. Remove from the oven and
serve immediately in the ramekins. Or run the tip of a small knife around
the inside of each ramekin to loosen the cake, then invert the cakes onto
individual plates. Serve with a drizzle of crème anglaise.
Variation: If you would like your molten chocolate cakes to have
bottoms and sides, dust the buttered ramekins with superfine sugar instead
of with cocoa powder.