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Chocolate Lava Cake with Macerated Berries

Published January 13, 2014 by jenmatteson

The final piece to the cooking-dinner party I led a few weeks ago – dessert!   You know I’m a chocolate girl, so this was absolutely a fantastic ending to a wonderful dinner.  To recap, we started with zucchini fritters, had an arugula and apple salad with Serrano ham and Manchego cheese, had a wonderful time making homemade pasta and swiss chard ravioli in a smoked onion tomato sauce, and ended with this fabulous lava cake.  Here are a few quick pics from their party.

Getting dessert ready

Jessica and Janell working on dessert.

Melting chocolate for dessert

Liz melting the chocolate for dessert.

Rolling out and filling pasta

Amanda paved the road for rolling out the pasta and moved on to filling raviolis.

Ladies Night

All the ladies, sitting down to their well deserved meal!

But back to what you probably came here for, dessert.  Mmmmmmm 😛

Chocolate Lava Cake with Macerated Berries

The cake would be wonderful with ice cream or even confectioners’ sugar, but I thought the berries were perfect.  The cake itself isn’t very sweet, so the berries add not only a fresh, bright flavor, but a light sweetness.  You can really use any mix of berries, and frozen would be great and inexpensive, too!  The cake batter itself is the easy part, baking it to a point where it’s runny in the middle and cake on the outside is the art.  My husby is so precious – he didn’t realize the ‘lava’ part of the cake was just undercooked batter, and thought I injected the cake with something to make it runny.  Isn’t that cute?

Brandy Macerated Berries

You just have to keep your eye on the cakes while they cook – every oven is different, and times will vary based on the shape and depth of your ramekins.  The best time to take them out is when the sides are completely cooked, and the middle of the top (which will become the bottom) still looks uncooked, but is in fact somewhat firm to the light touch.  Not that it doesn’t taste good if you cook it all the way, but what’s a lava cake without the lava?

Chocolate Lava Cake with Macerated Berries

Chocolate Lava Cake with Macerated Berries

Source: Adapted from St. Francis/Chef David Bush
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
5 ounces (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4 eggs
4 egg yolks
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon brandy
oil or butter for coating ramekins
1 pint mixed berries (such as raspberries and blackberries)

Directions:

1.  Pour about ¾-inch water in the bottom of a double boiler, making certain top pan will not touch water.  Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.  Chop bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate into small pieces and place in the top of double boiler with butter and place over boiling water.  Stir occasionally with a rubber spatula until chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

2. Sift cornstarch and sugar into a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 tbsp brandy, then whisk egg mixture into the cornstarch-sugar mixture all at once.  Whisk in the chocolate-butter mixture. Cover and chill batter at least 2 hours, or overnight, before using.

3. In a small bowl, combine berries with ¼ cup brandy and sprinkle with sugar.  Gently mash the berries with the back of a fork and set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly oil (or butter and flour) six 6-ounce ramekins or small soufflé dishes. Place ½ cup batter in each ramekin until barely risen and cracked on top, 10 to 14 minutes. Cool about 8 minutes before serving. Unmold onto plates and spoon berries on top of each.  You could also serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, with, or instead of berries.

Utilizing Your Ice Cube Trays

Published February 14, 2013 by jenmatteson

Do you ever need just a little of something, but don’t know what to do with the rest?  It happens to me all the time with tomato paste.  Recipes frequently call for 1-2 tbsp at a time, but not an entire can.  I don’t want a bunch of open cans in my fridge, or the stress of trying to use it up before it goes bad.  So, this is a wonderful alternative!  Spoon it out into ice cube trays.  Once they are frozen, pop them out and place them in a zip top freezer bag.  Viola!  When you need just a little, you’re all set.
Freezing tomato paste in ice cube trays

Freezing tomato paste

You can use this trick with many things other than just tomato paste.  Here is a list of great ways to use this same strategy:

  • Homemade Pesto: I made a huge batch last summer and froze it in ice cube trays.
  • Chipotle in Adobo: Be sure to blend or chop the chipotle, otherwise you might not get some pepper in all the cubes.
  • Coffee: Makes for great iced coffee.  Also, I just read this great blog post from my friend, Ashley, who uses these cubes in after dinner drinks.  My coffee-cube after dinner drink is an adapted version of her recipe.  Genius!
  • Leftover Herbs: Chop up, place in trays and fill with water to stock/broth.  Add to soups, sauces and stir fries.
  • Leftover Wine: But seriously, what is that?
  • Stocks/Broths: Great to add to many dishes for extra flavor.
  • Fresh Squeezed Juice: Perfect for when you need 1 tbsp of fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • Heavy Cream and Buttermilk: Great for that little leftover you couldn’t use up before it goes bad.  You won’t be able to whip heavy cream once it’s been frozen, but you can still use it in sauces and baking.
  • Fresh Berries: Freeze fresh berries with a bit of water to throw into drinks and smoothies.

Here’s another helpful tip when using your cubes:

  • 1 cube = 2 tbsp
  • 2 cubes = 1/4 cup
  • 4 cubes = 1/2 cup
  • 8 cubes = 1 cup

What do you like to use your ice cube trays for?

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