Do you believe in curses? I did. Especially after my fifth batch of ginger cupcakes fell flat. Well, they didn’t fall flat per say. They just bubbled over their moulds in the oven and came out looking and smelling funky.
‘Your baking just sucks,’ my husband declared after a bite. ‘Please don’t try that again. Look on the bright side. There’s beer in the fridge.’
Ok, maybe he didn’t say those exact words. But there was mention of cutting back on the attempts at baking and cheering up with a pint of beer.
I was convinced that there was something wrong with me. That, good as I am with savouries, curries and meats, the universe was sabotaging my attempts at baking.
But then one day I discovered a recipe for molten chocolate cake. Unlike other recipes for breads, cakes and cookies, the measures covered two small portions and involved only six ingredients to the perfect cake.
I poured over this recipe for two whole days wondering whether I should dare to dream until I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had to know.
So I pulled out a small slab of cooking chocolate and got chopping. I decided to do away with the butter in favour of coconut oil. As I waited for the oven to pre-heat, I read the oven’s manual for the second time since I bought it.
That’s when I found the first explanation to my disastrous baking. I don’t have a full-blown oven, but a humble OTG. Cakes in this device must never be cooked over 150 C. That explained a lot about why my cookies burned and my cupcakes stank. (There are other explanations to my bad baking joujou, but more on that in posts to come.)
Hope renewed, I got to work. I melted the chocolate and the coconut oil in a bowl over the saucepan filled with water and the aroma that wafted over was entrancing. The scent of the coconut and the sweetness of chocolate are so distinct, yet perfectly matched. I honestly don’t know why more bakers don’t pair them together!
From there on, everything went like clockwork. I beat the eggs, added the coco-chocolate mixture and measured out the flour.
I even tried not to stand in front of the oven obsessively doing a cook’s rendition of a rain dance. And finally, for the first time since I started baking, I had two perfect cakes.
The top had formed a thin, brown crust. Hidden just underneath it was a splash of molten chocolate. The bottom and the sides were soft and spongy.
The best thing about this recipe was that it took me 21 minutes to prep, bake and eat. Something that would be perfect for date night and dinner parties alike since you can make the mix and keep it in the fridge until you’re 12 minutes away from dessert.
You know, our favourite food blogs make baking look so damn simple. Like all you need to do is a dash of this, a pinch of that and voila! You’re a domestic goddess. Cookies anyone?
But really, baking isn’t simple. It takes time. Effort. Practice. Experimentation. But most importantly, baking takes patience. So if you’re a novice like me, don’t be a croquem-douche about it. Start small and work your way up.
Here’s the perfect little treat to give your baking a boost.
Molten Chocolate Cake for Two
½ cup butter (but coconut oil just makes the chocolate taste so much more delicious!)
1 cup chocolate chips or chopped up cooking chocolate
1 egg yolk
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons flour
#1 Pre-heat your oven to 175C. I have a tiny OTG so my recommended temperature is 130-150 C.
#2 Melt the oil and chocolate in a double boiler. I neither have a double boiler nor do I know what it is. So I melted it in a small bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Make sure they melt and mix properly so the lumps of chocolate melt away.
#3 In another bowl, beat the egg, yolk, salt and sugar together for around 3-5 minutes. The mixture should be thick in texture and light yellow in colour.
#4 Add the chocolate and stir it up for another minute. Make sure all the ingredients have mixed up evenly.
#5 Add the flour, one tablespoon at a time and fold. The mixture should now be significantly thicker.
#6 Pour into two oven safe pudding cups (greased with oil or butter, of course). I used silicone cups that are generally used for cupcakes. Advantage of this is that it can be peeled off when it’s done and doesn’t require greasing. Easy peasy!
#7 If you want to bake this later, like just as dinner ends, store it in the fridge but take it out 30 minutes before it’s meant to go into the oven.
#8 Bake for 12 minutes. The top should rise a little and get a little crusty.
#9 Remove from the oven and let cool for a minute. Then turn the cups over and remove the cake into a dessert plate.
#10 Serve with whipped cream, ice-cream or sorbet. Personally, I’d go with sweet and sour lemon or orange sorbet because a little tang is all you need to break the rich and sweet chocolate.
Based on a recipe by Two Tarts