Chocolate is a little like wine. Every year, growing conditions turn out a different crop with different flavors. Some shops, like Boehms in Issaquah, WA offer varietals - chocolate from specific growing regions. All with different nuances of flavor. My favorite, when I could still eat chocolate, was the stuff from Hawaii.
Every year, many of the major cooking magazines (Fine Cooking, Cooks Illustrated, Chocolatier, etc) review chocolates. They rate the best baking chocolate (dark and milk) and the best cocoa powders. The winners vary year to year depending on how the manufacturers blend their product and depending on how the growing conditions affected flavor for the year. Yes. Once upon a time, until chocolate abruptly became a migraine trigger for me a year or two ago, I took cooking with chocolate very, very seriously. I can honestly say that spending the time and trouble to acquire the year's best chocolate makes all the difference in the world when you're looking for an overwhelming chocolate experience.
Since the tragic day I sort of redefined 'death by chocolate' (when that initial migraine hit along with the awareness of what had caused it, I admit to spending an hour wishing I were dead...then the meds kicked in and I got over it), everyone has been very considerate about not asking me to make chocolate goods for them anymore. Except at Christmas. My beloved husband wouldn't dream of asking me to make chocolate when he knows I can't indulge...but he also knows he won't have to, because the rest of my family will. So here it is. The one recipe I cannot escape.
Molten Lava Chocolate Cake with Chambord Truffle Center
3/4 heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (chips are fine, but go with the best quality you can find - it really makes a difference)
2 ounces Chambord
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup Valrohna cocoa powder
8 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
5 ounces unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean pulp
Truffle center: Heat heavy cream to a boil and pour over chopped chocolate. Let sit for 2 minutes. Whisk in Chambord until smooth. Pour onto a sheet pan lined with parchment papger. Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes until set. Once set, portion into twelve 1-ounce portions (about 1 heaping tablespoon). Round into balls, using your hands. Freeze until cakes are ready.
Cakes: Preheat oven to 325. Grease a 12-cup nonstick muffin pan with butter (or cheat like I do and use Baker's Joy - brilliant stuff.) Sift flour and cocoa together and set aside. Melt the chocolate with the butter over a double boiler. Place the eggs, yolks, sugar and vanilla pulp into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat at medium speed until mixture is slightly frothy. Add the melted chocolate mixture at medium speed and mix until combined. Continue to mix at low speed, adding the sifted ingredients until smooth. Portion into the prepared muffin pan evenly. Bake for 5 mintues. Remove pan from oven and place on truffle into the center of each cake about halfway down. Return pan to oven and bake for 15-17 minutes. Check for doneness in cake, not truffle center. Allow to cool slightly and unmold.
CAUTION: that molten goo in the center will be HOT. These things are rich. We serve them with a dollop of whipped cream on the side.
Also note that this recipe is worth checking chocolate reviews for and then getting the best chocolate you can find. You'll likely have to order Valrohna cocoa powder from an online source in advance, so plan ahead - but the flavor difference is huge. With as much semisweet chocolate as is required for this recipe, you'll be happiest with a super good quality chocolate there, too. Some of the magazines post their reviews online. Happy chocolate!