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14
February
2007

Baked Hot Chocolate

Baked Hot Chocolate

I received the new Scharffen Berger book, The Essence of Chocolate, last month and have been looking forward to trying a chocolate recipe for Valentine’s Day. The book’s images, stories and selection of great chocolate recipes are quite impressive. It has everything from fondue to three-bean chili (with cocoa, of course), all contributed by well known chefs like Thomas Keller, Elizabeth Faulkner, David Lebovitz, Alice Medrich and many more. It includes pictures of Scharffen Berger’s founders, John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg, out in the fields with cacao farmers, teaching us about the history of chocolate. They also confront the issue of the recent purchase by Hershey, which was an unexpected element in a book that could have easily avoided it. (Scharffenberger and Steinberg stated they believe Hershey’s interest in the company signals a new era of dark chocolate in America and that they will remain with the company.) Overall, I was impressed with the depth and beauty of the book.

After much debate (with myself) I decided to make Baked Hot Chocolate, a recipe contributed by Heidi Friedlander. The recipe starts out with the description, “Baked hot chocolate is almost like having three desserts in one – the top layer has just a hint of crispness, the center has the texture of warm chocolate pudding, and the bottom layer is just a shade thicker than the thickest hot chocolate you can imagine.”. I’m sold! That sounded like a dream come true, and I thought it would be a great Valentine’s Day dessert. Apparently I was not alone in my selection, and I read Veronica’s report on her experience with the recipe before I began.

The recipe’s ingredients are very simple: eggs, chocolate, butter and sugar. You begin by melting the chocolate and butter together, then warm the eggs and sugar and beat until “light and fluffy”. When I got to the part about beating the eggs, I realized I left my whisk attachment for my stand mixer at the Amai kitchen. This forced me to whisk the eggs with a hand mixer, although the recipe specifically calls for doing this in a stand mixer. After 12 minutes of whisking (the recipe calls for 3 to 5) my eggs were light in color, although not fluffy, but I decided it would be good enough. I folded the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, and poured it into the cups. I guessed that I should divide it into 4 cups because of the serving size, but the recipe never actually says. I put the cups in a bain-marie and set it in the oven at 350F.

I checked on the cups after 15 minutes and to my surprise the batter hadn’t change AT ALL. I’ve never seen anything like it. It didn’t melt, it didn’t move, it didn’t bake. It looked exactly like I did when I put the cakes in the oven. I took one out and tried tasting it, and it was almost batter consistency. Of course it was good because chocolate is never really bad, but I knew something was wrong. I left it in the oven for another 20 minutes (40 minutes total) until the cakes seemed to bake enough to be eaten. Needless to say, what came out of the oven looked nothing like the picture or description in the book. Mine had a domed, cracked top, while the one in the picture was flat and almost smooth. The taste was dry and they did not have the layered hot chocolate/pudding/cake effect I was hoping for.

Although my first attempt at this recipe failed, I still believe it could be a good one and I want to retry it with the right tools. I think the reason for my failure was improperly whipped eggs. If anyone has a suggestion for what else I should try differently next time, please let me know. In the meantime, I will go back to dreaming about the other chocolate recipes in this very interesting book, and go to Plan B for Valentine’s Day – eating out. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

Baked Hot Chocolate
Contributed by Heidi Friedlander
Serves 4

Ingredients
9 ounces 62% semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Whipped cream (optional)

Directions

  • Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Arrange four 1-cup ovenproof coffee cups or mugs or 8 oz ramekins in a baking or roasting pan.
  • Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler set over gently simmering water, and whisk occassionally until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside. Stir the eggs and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer then set over simmering water and stir until warm to the touch.
  • Place the bowl on the stand mixer and, using the whisk attachment, beat for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Remove from the mixer, and fold the eggs into the chocolate mixture until it is light and smooth.
  • Spoon the batter into the cups. Add enough very hot water to the baking pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The baked hot chocolates will be done when the tops lose their glossy finish. A wooden skewer inserted in the top will emerge clean, but batter toward the bottom of the cup will still be very moist.
  • Carefully remove the cups from the pan. The cakes can be served warm, at room temperature, or covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day. To reheat, bring to room temperature and place in a preheated 350F oven for 5 minutes, or until warm.
  • Serve topped with a dollop of cocoa whipped cream.

Excerpted from THE ESSENCE OF CHOCOLATE by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg. Copyright 2006 Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, Inc. All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold.



9 COMMENTS SO FAR...

Lara says on February 14th, 2007 at 11:56 pm:

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Andrew!

I’m sure it would have had a much better outcome having had the whisk attachment! But I couldn’t help but giggle a little, thinking about all of our successful attempts at new recipes recently ;) At least you made something…more than I can say!

Kristen says on February 17th, 2007 at 3:10 pm:

That looks like a great recipe to try…. I have no idea why it didn’t work out, but I hope you try it again.

Marsha says on February 20th, 2007 at 8:05 pm:

This is a challenge recipe for sure :)

Veron says on February 21st, 2007 at 4:55 pm:

Hi Kelli, I think I left my chocolate cups in there for 5 minutes longer. My dome top cracked too and I used a skewer test to check how far down was the gooey stuff.

Heidi says on February 24th, 2007 at 9:59 am:

Kelli, I’m so sorry that your attempt at my baked hot chocolate recipe did not result in success. I’m quite sure, as you surmised, that proper volume of the egg mixture was not achieved by using a hand mixer. The final dessert should produce a slightly puffed and smooth top (sometimes a crack sneaks in – that’s what whipped cream is for:-)) – much as described in the photo from The Essence of Chocolate. ..and the desired textural layering combined with an incredibly rich and smooth mouthfeel as one digs deeper into the intensely chocolate depths of their cup – never dry. I hope your next chocolate baking adventure will prove to be a rewarding one.
Best,
Heidi Robb (Friedlander)

Columbus Foodie » Blog Archive » February 2007 Roundup says on February 28th, 2007 at 3:33 pm:

[...] Recipes from around the blogosphere that I’m adding to my recipe file to make in the future: Deliciously Trashy Mac and Cheese, Cheesecake Factory White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake, and Cream of Reuben Soup from the Columbus Dispatch, Black Bean Pie from 28 Cooks, Soupe a l’Oignon Gratinee from a good american wife, Shiitake and Saffron Risotto from Aidan Brooks: Trainee Chef, Nutella Cheesecake Brownies from alpineberry, Claudia’s German Sauerbraten from appetitive behavior, Rosie’s Its Too Damn Cold Outside Chili from Bitchin’ in the Kitchen with Rosie, Cauliflower and Poblano Chile “Jackpot” Gratin from Blog Appetit, Frangipane Apple Pies from Cafe of the East, Apple Torte and Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Muffins from Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once, Sesame Seed Balls from Dessert First, Italian Cheese Bread from Dine and Dish, Show Cooker Onion Soup from A Veggie Venture, Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Soup from everybody like sandwiches, Maple-Glazed Bacon on Gorgonzola Polenta Squares from Fancy Toast, Crab with Brie, Parmesan and Artichokes from Ideas in Food, Beef in Red Wine and Potato, Cheddar and Chive Soup from Kuchenlatein, Brown Sugar Bundt Cake from La Mia Cucina, Baked Hot Chocolate from Lovescool, Potato Salad from M3rNi3, Pancetta-Ricotta Crostini from My husband cooks, the most mouth watering burger I’ve ever seen from Off the Broiler, Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts from Orangette, Microwave Chocolate Pudding from thepassionatecook, Brie-stuffed French Toast with Maple Syrup and Sliced Apple from tomsaaristo’s Xanga, and CannelĂ© Colossus from The Traveler’s Lunchbox. [...]

Laurie says on March 1st, 2007 at 4:30 pm:

Well, just let me say, I will be happy to devour all your “failuries!” MMMMM, bet this was still really good! Also, it’s true, whipped cream could be your secret weapon to fill in the cracks! :-)

pumpkinpie says on March 28th, 2007 at 8:06 am:

I beat the eggs until pale and at least doubled in volume. I had to bake for 30 minutes, and it was smooth and flat (but no crisp top). It tasted like a rich warm chocolate pudding, much like the incredible hot chocolate “drink” I enjoyed in Spain. And just like in Spain, my husband who “only wanted a taste” ended up eating an entire one for himself. If you are dining with someone less gluttonous, this recipe could serve 6-8.

Cathy Spalding says on March 30th, 2007 at 8:22 pm:

At least with chocolate desserts, even if they don’t turn out they usually still taste yummy!



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