Lots of folks like chocolate, and they like it on Valentine’s Day and maybe every other day, too. This show-off dessert is found on lots of restaurant menus because it looks solid until you stick your spoon into it and out comes a sauce. It is a very modern recipe; cookbooks older than 10 to 20 years don’t seem to have it.

Each little “cake” has a thin, crusty, brownielike exterior and a thick chocolate pudding center. This recipe reminds me of an older one from good old Fanny Farmer called Denver Chocolate Pudding, which is assembled in layers and when baked separates into a cakey bit with a puddinglike part and a crusty top. I’ve always loved that recipe because you can make dessert without eggs or milk. So when someone says that the molten chocolate desert was invented by accident, I am skeptical. The idea of gooey centers has been around for a while.

It is good to bake these in ramekins if you have them. Mine are too small so I used custard cups and that worked fine. It is really important to have them well greased and floured, or dusted inside with cocoa, so that the cakes will let go when you are ready to turn them out.

You may think the 2 teaspoons of flour doesn’t sound right, but I assure you, it is. Also six to seven minutes sounds like too short a time, but don’t let them bake a minute longer. They are supposed to look wobbly in the middle.

I find them a little on the last-minute side, requiring a bit of scrambling around. I wouldn’t try to make them for a big dinner party — they are much more suited to an intimate supper. You can mix the batter, put it in the cups, and then refrigerate them but you have to bring them to room temperature before baking. I let mine sit for a bit and baked them as soon as dinner was over. Eat them hot. If they get cold the insides aren’t as nicely gooey and runny as they ought to be.

And rich? Don’t talk. But it’s all right once a year.


Molten Chocolate Cakes

Makes 4 servings.

½ cup butter

4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

¼ cup sugar

2 teaspoons flour

Grease and flour four 4-ounce ramekins or custard cups. Melt butter and chocolate together over hot water in a double boiler. Beat eggs, egg yolks and sugar together until mixture is thick and smooth. Add eggs and sugar mixture to the warm butter and chocolate and whisk together very well. Beat in flour. Pour batter into ramekins, dividing evenly.

Preheat oven to 450. Put cups on a baking pan. Bake for only six to seven minutes. Take out of oven and immediately invert them on small plates for serving. Let them rest inside cups for 10 minutes, then raise cup and if it doesn’t let go, run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the cake until the cake comes free. Top with a bit of ice cream or whipped cream and serve immediately.

Looking for … Brambles. I find recipes here and there for this nice old-fashioned item, but I would like a recommended recipe if anyone wants to share.

Send queries or answers to Sandy Oliver, 1061 Main Road, Islesboro 04848. E-mail: tastebuds@prexar.com. For recipes, tell us where they came from. List ingredients, specify number of servings and do not abbreviate measurements. Include name, address and daytime phone number.

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...