I love spicy chocolate things. I don’t know why it works so well, but it does. Lindt, for instance, makes a dark chocolate bar with chili mixed in, and Chuao, a San Diego local chocolatier, makes this thing called a Spicy Maya dark chocolate bar that has cinnamon, pasilla, and cayenne. (Also, there’s a coffee shop on UCSD campus that makes Spicy Maya hot chocolate, and it is just as good as it sounds like it should be.)
Anyway, these cakes are kinda like that: dark chocolate with chipotle mixed in. The word “cake” is almost a misnomer; it’s really more like a custard, and you even bake it in a bain-marie. I would call that a hot-water bath, but I made them for a pretentious party, so the French name works better. The recipe originally comes from here (ooh, look, Epicurious, how pretentious!), but I’ve made a few modifications, primarily in the method of spice addition.
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 T orange juice (about two oranges’ worth if you’re going for fresh-squeezed)
- 10 oz dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, chopped in pieces
- Chipotle powder, to taste
- 4 eggs
- 4 t flour
- A dash of salt
You will also need 8 4-oz ramekins, or 6 of the slightly larger ones. Really, though, I’d go with the smaller ramekins, because these cakes are incredibly rich. I like to serve the cakes in the ramekins, but if you want to unmold the cakes onto little plates or whatever, rub the insides with butter and dust them with sugar.
A note on chocolate: The original recipe called for Valrhona 56% semisweet chocolate, but I’ve never been able to find this particular brand in stores (not that I’ve looked particularly hard). I’ve had success with Ghiradelli dark chocolate, but this last time I made it, I used some really dark chocolate (72%, I think) from Trader Joe’s, and it turned out fantastic. Don’t use baking chocolate; get good-quality chocolate that you would eat by itself.
Pour the sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar has melted. While it is melting, chop the chocolate and put it in a good-size bowl (I’d recommend something microwaveable). Pour the hot orange-sugar mixture over the chocolate and stir until all the chocolate is melted. Next, put the butter chunks in and stir until they melt too. You may need a little more heat to get all the butter to melt; if this is the case, microwave the bowl for 15-20 seconds.
The next thing you’re going to add is the eggs, but let’s get the chocolate-spicy ratio right first, in case you don’t believe in eating raw eggs. Start with about a teaspoon of chipotle powder, mix it with a little water to get something approximating a paste, add to the chocolate, mix thoroughly, and taste. If you want more spice, work your way up by half-teaspoons until you’ve reached a nice level of heat.
At this point you should start getting your oven ready. Preheat to 325ºF, and put a good-size pot of water on your stove for the bain-marie. You’re going to want it somewhere just a little less than boiling.
Now for the eggs. Add them one at a time, whisking them in really well. Then add the flour and the salt. Divide the mixture equally between the ramekins; if you are feeling fancy you can sprinkle them with turbinado sugar and/or more chipotle powder. Put the ramekins in a deep baking dish and put the dish on the middle rack of your oven. Put the hot water in something with a pour spout and pour it into the baking dish until it is about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for 50-60 minutes; the cakes will be slightly puffy and firm to the touch, and will have a slight crust on top. Be super careful while getting the pans out of your oven because pouring boiling water on your foot is not any fun. To remove the ramekins from the pans, I’d recommend a spatula, unless you have some pretty heavy-duty tongs.
I like to serve the cakes with a little bit of high-quality vanilla-bean ice cream, scooped thin so it will melt and turn into a cool vanilla sauce. You could also try a crème anglaise if you are feeling fancy.