Now that the cold, dark, sickly, depressing season is upon us (which is made even less tolerable by the seepage of premature Christmas music), comfort food has become paramount once again. And so I have instituted Sunday family dinners with my dad, effective immediately.
Our first feast: roasted leg of Codman Farm lamb with rosemary, garlic, and a red wine pan sauce, turnip and potato gratin, and braised kale. For dessert, we had molten chocolate cakes spiked with cognac. Because, let’s face it, that was the only way my dad was going to eat his kale. And turnips. Weird how the lamb disappeared so quickly, though. (He is his daughter’s father, after all.)
This is not the same kind of chocolate cake that Bill Cosby spoke so highly of as part of a balanced breakfast. These are more like individual chocolate soufflés encased in chocolate cake. You know, the kind you have to order at the same time as your meal at an expensive restaurant so they’ll be done in time. I was sure the kids wouldn’t like them at all, being gooey in the middle and frostingless and somewhat boozy. But they did, goddamnit. I had hoped the remaining cakes would last me until at least Wednesday. Nope, just Monday. Round about 7 a.m. When I ate the last one out of the microwave while the kids had Chex.
Molten Chocolate Cakes
Don’t worry, they get more alcohol than this in their cough medicine.
9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. cognac
4 eggs, separated
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. cake flour
Confectioner’s sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 6 individual ramekins and dust lightly with flour, shaking out any extra.
In a double-boiler, combine chocolate, butter, and cognac, and stir until melted and smooth. (No double-boiler? No problem. Just set a large metal bowl over a medium pan of simmering water and proceed. The steam from the water will heat the bowl enough to melt the chocolate without scorching. Oven mitts are recommended.) Remove from heat.
Beat the egg whites in a medium bowl until they hold stiff peaks. In a separate large bowl, beat the yolks and sugar until the color lightens and the mixture falls off the beaters like ribbons. Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Sift the cake flour over the egg mixture and fold in. Add the chocolate mixture and fold in. You want the batter to be uniform color but still maintain as much of its airy lightness as possible. Spoon batter into ramekins. (You can refrigerate them, covered, for several hours at this point.)
Set dishes on a baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes until they rise and the tops just start to crack. Do not overbake. Remember, you want the centers to basically be hot batter. Invert onto a plate and then onto serving plates. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve immediately.