Chocolate is considered the elixir of love. So much so that even the gods made it there drink of choice. Random? I think not! So how can mere mortals resists its allure and power? Its luscious taste?
In ancient Aztecs and Mayans times cocoa bean was prized for its caffeine-like effects. The beans were used as a sort of currency. These days, cocoa has gained momentum not so much so for the chocolate's natural stimulants but rather for the health benefits of eating it. And don't forget its romantic and erotic associations: Perfect for Valentine's day.
So in honor of Valentine's Day, here's my recipe for romance: candlelight dinner at home, a glass of Veuve Clicquot, a little Harry Connick Jr in the background and--as the pièce de résistance, a rich, sensual, totally irresistible dessert. In aid to Cupid's cause, this valentine I give you chocolate cakes with raspberry ganache centers. Enjoy!
Chocolate Ganache Cakes
(from the book Harvest to Heat, with a few changes of my own)
Yields 8 individual cakes
For the ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
9 oz semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 tbs. Raspberry liquor
For the cake batter
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
6 oz milk chocolate, roughly chopped
4 lg eggs, room temp
2 lg egg yolks, room temp
1/2 cup all purpose flour (sifted)
1/8 ts coarse salt
Whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream for garnish
Make the ganache
Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Put the Chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Once the cream comes to a simmer, pour it over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute. Gently whisk the cream and the raspberry liquor into the melted chocolate, being careful not to incorporate any air. Chill in the refrigerator.
Make the cake batter
Combine the Butter, 1 cup of the sugar, and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the butter is melted. Put the bittersweet and milk chocolates in a large heatproof bowl. Pour the butter- sugar mixture over the chocolates and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is well blended.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, yolks and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with an electric mixer until the mixture is pale yellow and forms thick ribbons.
Fold the chocolate mixture into the eggs until well combined. Fold in the flour and salt. Refrigerate the batter for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Assemble the cakes
Reserve 1/2 cup of ganache, then divide the rest of the ganache into eight equal parts and roll into balls.
Butter 8 individual ramekins and fill each one third full with the cake batter. Place ganache ball in the center of the mold and cover with more batter, filling each mold three quarters full.
Heat the oven to 350F. Bake the cakes until the sides are set and their tops puff up but are still soft, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 2 minutes and then invert the cakes onto individual serving plates. Gently warm the reserved ganache and drizzle over warm cakes; serve while warm. Add a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.
Note: depending on your oven the cakes might take anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes. Keep checking your cakes after you reach the 15 minute mark.