Last-minute Molten Chocolate Souffle

If you’ve ever needed a delicious (and easy) dessert that appeals to chocolate-lovers and the gluten-free alike, look no further than the old restaurant standby the Molten Chocolate Souffle. I was first introduced to a variation of this recipe by Elizabeth Bard of Lunch in Paris, so when just a few weeks ago during a visit to my grandmother’s I needed to pull together a dessert from within the contents of her cabinet (obviously no gluten-free flour in sight) the molten chocolate souffle light went off in my head.  Anyone with a half a box of baker’s chocolate and cream of tartar (if you don’t have this you can use a flour-based recipe instead) and a bit of patience to whip egg whites can make these little beauties in about 30 minutes.

Recipe slightly adapted from Joy of Baking

1/2 cup unsalted butter
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
3 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 tbsp granulated white sugar

Molten Chocolate Souffles: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Generously butter four – 6 to 8 ounce molds, ramekins, or muffin tins and dust the insides with granulated white sugar. Place the prepared molds on a baking sheet and set aside while you make the cake batter.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a microwave in 20 second increments, stirring in between.  Remove from heat and set aside while you beat the egg yolks.

Using a hand mixer, or in your electric bowl mixer (if your lucky!) beat the egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar until thick, pale, and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and then fold in the melted chocolate mixture.

In a separate bowl whip the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to whip until soft peaks form. Gradually add the 1 tablespoon of granulated white sugar and whip just until stiff peaks form. With a wire whisk gently fold the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture, just until incorporated. Do not over mix or the batter will deflate. Divide the batter between the prepared molds.* Bake for 10 to 15 minutes  or until the outside edges of the cakes are set but the middle still looks a little wet and wobbly. You may have cracks on the top surface of the cakes.

Immediately remove from oven and let them rest for a minute or two. You can serve the cakes in their molds (as I did, fewer dishes to wash!) or you can run a sharp knife around the edge of each cake and then invert onto the center of each serving plate. Carefully remove the mold. If you have it handy, whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or even just a bit of powdered sugar makes the perfect compliment. 

*Note: At this point I put the molds on a cookie sheet and covered with wax paper and popped them in the refrigerator so we could sit down to dinner, when dinner was winding down, I took the cookie sheet out and removed the wax paper and put everything in the oven.  With this method the cakes may take a bit longer to cook, but they will be perfect and piping hot just when you’re ready for dessert.

Makes four Molten Chocolate Souffles.

My grandmother, aunt, and cousin tried to protest that they were full from dinner and couldn’t possibly eat another bite, but wouldn’t you know not a crumb of these cakes was left.

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