Chop chocolate using a serrated knife
Chocolate Molten Lava Revisited
May 26, 2005


This is why baking infuriates the Hellman's out of me. Remember how deliciously well my first foray into Molten Chocolate Cake turned out? And how that was the practice run before I made it for guests? The point being that when you practice something you work out all possible kinks and can therefore perform perfectly for guests? Do you see where I'm going with this?

Yeah, the guest run wasn't as successful as the trial run. Why? I really have no idea. I measured, mixed, and moltened EXACTLY as before. I blended and baked, whipped and whisked EXACTLY as before. But for some reason, two of the cakes were still slightly wet in the middle. They hadn't yet developed that drier, cakier top all the way across. Instead of shoving the slightly unfinished cakes back in the oven for an undetermined and untested amount of time, I decided to go ahead and plate them all.

I inverted all the cakes onto individual plates and counted to ten. I tapped each one, took a deep breath, and pulled the brioche tins away. Well, I pulled the brioche tins away from TWO of them. The two weird ones didn't want to let go of their Parisian homes. As Dr. Mathra rubbed my shoulders and gave me a whispered pep talk, I took another deep breath and tapped the stubborn cakes once again. Peering at a sliver of light between the plate and the inverted tin, I could see that the wet spot on top of the screwy cakes had left a chocolatey wet spot on the plates. Bother. A few more taps and careful shakes later and the two troublesome cakes finally slid onto their plates. One was slightly cracked on the bottom (which was now the top) and both were starting to spread starting at the chocolatey wet spot. Damn.

Having been schooled in how to hide such things, I quickly but carefully banged some cocoa powder through a fine-mesh sieve over the top of each cake -- something I'd been planning on doing to all four, cracks or no -- and garnished each with scoops of vanilla or pistachio ice cream, according to my guests' preference. Now, something else I've been schooled in by both my mother-in-law and my chefs is to never apologize for a dish. Something went weird in the kitchen? Don't mention it -- chances are that, unless the smoke detector goes off, no one will know. And even if the smoke detector does go off, it doesn't necessarily signify that something gang aft agley.

Point is, I didn't say a word and the Molten Chocolate Cakes were praised so loudly I'm certain the Cloud Minders heard them. So why am I mentioning this all now when my guests are certain to read and learn what went down in the kitchen that night? Personal edification. I cook. I learn. I make misbakes. I learn. And besides, the cakes are no longer in front of them to examine.

Anyway, back to me not getting it because I don't. This time around, I was even much more calm and organized. Is that it? Do I need to be panicky to have that baking edge? If so, I don't think my nerves can take it. There's only one thing for it -- I'm going back in. Dr. Mathra and I have several working theories about what might have gone wrong and I'm starting to chop chocolate once again.

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