<b>Serve a chocolate cake that is sure to melt the heart</b>

Impress your Valentine's Day date with fallen chocolate cake, which is easier to make at home than you might think. | Photo contributed by Keller + Keller/America's Test Kitchen via AP

Fallen chocolate cake, or molten chocolate cake, is an undercooked-in-the-center mound of intense, buttery chocolate cake. We wanted to turn this restaurant-menu standard into a practical recipe for home cooks.

Beating the egg whites and yolks separately and then folding them together as some recipes instruct resulted in a cottony cake; we found that beating the eggs with sugar to a foam and then folding them into melted chocolate delivered cakes with the rich, moist texture we wanted.

You can substitute bittersweet chocolate for the semisweet; the flavor will be slightly more intense.

A mere 2 tablespoons of flour did an able job of holding the souffle-like cakes together -- any more and the cakes were dry, with no fluid center.

Finally, we wanted to ensure that these decadent desserts would arrive at the table hot and still molten. Happily, we found that we could prepare the batter ahead of time, refrigerating the filled ramekins until ready to use and then placing them in the oven to bake during dinner.


Start to finish: 1 hour

Servings: 8

Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped coarse

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

4 large eggs plus 1 large yolk, room temperature

1/2 cup (31/2 ounces) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Confectioners' sugar

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, and heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Grease eight 6-ounce ramekins, and dust with cocoa. Arrange the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet.

Microwave the chocolate in a large bowl at 50 percent power for 2 minutes. Stir chocolate, add the butter, and microwave at 50 percent power for 2 minutes longer, stopping to stir after 1 minute. If chocolate is not yet entirely melted, microwave for an additional 30 seconds; set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip the eggs, yolk, granulated sugar, vanilla and salt on high speed until eggs are pale yellow and have nearly tripled in volume. (Egg foam will form a ribbon that sits on top of the mixture for 5 seconds when dribbled from whisk.)

Scrape the egg mixture over the chocolate mixture, then sprinkle the flour on top. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold egg mixture and flour into chocolate until mixture is uniformly colored.

Divide batter evenly among prepared ramekins. (Unbaked cakes can be refrigerated for up to 8 hours. Return to room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.)

Bake until cakes have puffed about 1/2 inch above rims of ramekins, have a thin crust on top, and jiggle slightly at center when ramekins are shaken very gently, 12-13 minutes.

Run a thin knife around edges of ramekins to loosen cakes. Invert each ramekin onto plate, and let sit until cakes release themselves from ramekins, about 1 minute. Lift off ramekins, dust with confectioners' sugar and serve.

Nutrition information per serving: 318 calories; 153 calories from fat; 17 g fat (8 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 161 mg cholesterol; 108 mg sodium; 33 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 14 g sugar; 9 g protein.

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