Chocolate Bourbon Hot Lava Cake
Cooking in the South of France
I learned to make these delicious oozing warm chocolate delights from Heather Hayes at Cooking by the Canal du Midi. Heather and her husband run a charming cooking class that sits at the edge of one of France's most ancient canals. We spent a day with Heather during a weeklong boat trip down the canal. Heather's class was the highlight of our trip. In addition to providing a day of classic French cooking and a wonderful shared meal, Heather helped us with many of our travel arrangements including dinner reservations and a tour of a local vineyard. Here are some of our pictures from our day cooking with Heather:
Our boats tied up outside Heather's Cooking School
Heather and I
A fun day cooking with Heather
Heather showing how to determine when your egg whites are adequately whipped
Our food creations required a generous pour of local wine
Our meal was eaten in the shade of the canal
Back to the Chocolate Bourbon Hot Lava Cakes. The French name for these warm and gooey cakes is chocolate fondant. In the U.S. they are more akin to our hot lava cakes. Heather's class is taught in the metric system, which for some darned reason the U.S. never transitioned to despite what they told us when I was a kid. Cooking is much more logical when you use the metric system and baking is much more accurate when you measure by metric weight. I have translated Heather's recipes to American measurements, but encourage you to make this recipe using metric weights. You will get a much more consistent result. All you need is an inexpensive digital kitchen scale. This one receives great reviews on Amazon.
My Boozy and Spicy Interpretation
I start with Heather's basic recipe and add a tot of bourbon, some cayenne pepper, cinnamon and vanilla for a little extra oomph. That is the beauty of these little desserts, you can customize the flavorings to your preference. You can also dust the buttered ramekins with a little cocoa for an extra chocolatey presentation.
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Make in Advance
The beauty of these little cakes is that you can make them in advance and then refrigerate them for a couple days or freeze them for longer. When you are ready to bake them just set the cakes on the kitchen counter until they reach room temperature before you put them in the oven. With a few of these in the freezer you are always just 8 minutes away from an amazing dessert.
The trick to these desserts is finding the sweet spot between the temperature of your oven, the type of ramekin you are using and the size of your ramekin. Everyone's oven is a little different. It is a good idea to check your oven occasionally with an oven thermometer. If your oven is slightly off you can adjust it by setting the temperature up or down until you achieve the correct temperature on the thermometer. If your temperature is significantly off or it varies, you may need to have your oven professionally adjusted.
I use 8-ounce, straight-sided porcelain ramekins for these cakes. In France we used metal ramekins. Cooking times will vary depending on what you use.
The goal is for the outside of the cakes to have a nice crust and the inside to be oozy and chocolatey, but not runny. Heather offered us some good advice. Make a test batch and bake the cakes one at a time starting with 8 minutes. Add a little more time if the first one comes out too wet. Reduce the time if you want a little more ooze. Once you get the perfect time in your oven and in your ramekins, write it down. This will be your go to timing for cooking these desserts in the future. Once you have the correct time down for your oven and your ramekins, they will become brain-dead easy to make.
- 4.5 (125 grams) ounces unsalted butter, plus more to grease the ramekins
- 4.5 (125 grams) ounces of good dark chocolate broken into a couple pieces
- 2 T bourbon
- ¼ - ½ t cayenne pepper
- 1 t vanilla paste or vanilla extract
- ½ t cinnamon
- 3 medium eggs
- ½ cup plus 3 T (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 T plus 1 t (35 grams) all purpose flour
- 3 t powdered sugar
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place a baking sheet in the oven so it heats up too. Generously grease ramekins with butter. In a small saucepan melt the butter until it foams. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Allow to melt and stir in bourbon, pepper, vanilla and cinnamon. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer whisk the eggs to combine and add the sugar. Mix on high until the mixture becomes thick, pale and smooth, about 12 - 15 minutes. Add the flour and mix in to combine.
- Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the batter. Fill the ramekins to ⅔ capacity.
- Take the hot tray from the oven and place the ramekins on the tray. Return to the oven and bake for 8 - 10 minutes, noting that the time will vary as described in the headnotes.The cakes are done when the tops have formed a nice crust and the sides have pulled away from the ramekins.
- Remove the ramekins from the hot tray and allow to cool for 2 - 3 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each ramekin, place a serving plate over the ramekin and invert. Put the powdered sugar in a mesh sieve and dust each cake with a bit of sugar.