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Modernist molten chocolate cakes


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I find that making chocolate molten cakes in a regular oven doesn't produce consistent results. I am wondering if there are modernist improvements in this space. I would imagine that cooking them in a combi oven would produce more consistent results, but I don't own a combi oven. Is there any other trick or technique that increases consistency of results when making this dessert?

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Johhny Iuzzini has a recipe for a warm chocolate doughnut that involves calcium chloride, sodium alginate, and a ganache thickened with methocel. They are breaded and fried, but possibly his method could inspire a baked application.

You may also want to adjust baking time and temperature. I'm sure most restaurants producing molten cakes over the last 15 years haven't had combi ovens.

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Johhny Iuzzini has a recipe for a warm chocolate doughnut that involves calcium chloride, sodium alginate, and a ganache thickened with methocel. They are breaded and fried, but possibly his method could inspire a baked application.

I've done Johnny Iuzzini's fried ganache doughnuts, the recipe works perfectly. The same ganache would probably work great in a molten cake... but I think it would be overkill. A ball of basic standard chocolate ganache in the batter works great. A ganache center makes molten cakes much more consistent in my opinion. You're not relying on uncooked batter to get a liquid center which gives more wiggle-room on bake and hold times. And at home, leftover cakes can be zapped in the microwave for a few seconds and the ganache will soften again. They aren't quite as nice as fresh-baked but still very edible.

Edited by Tri2Cook (log)

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I am wondering if there are modernist improvements in this space.

Modernist cooking isn't just fancy chemicals, there's a lot of basic precision too.

Make sure your recipe is consistent with digital scales, your oven temperature is accurate with a digital thermometer, and your timing is accurate with a digital timer.

If you get the puddings to a consistent temperature before baking then you should be able to find a combination of oven time and temperature that gives you consistent results. The size and colour of the ramekins you use will also affect the result.

A modernist approach would be to make sure everything is done exactly the same way, every time.

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Harvard lecture on youtube "Many faces of chocolate" has a recipe for molten chocolate cake that is great. Lecture 3 from 2011 series. It gives precise temperatures of products in various mixing stages as well as the final center temperature (35C)

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I am wondering if there are modernist improvements in this space.

Modernist cooking isn't just fancy chemicals, there's a lot of basic precision too.

Make sure your recipe is consistent with digital scales, your oven temperature is accurate with a digital thermometer, and your timing is accurate with a digital timer.

If you get the puddings to a consistent temperature before baking then you should be able to find a combination of oven time and temperature that gives you consistent results. The size and colour of the ramekins you use will also affect the result.

A modernist approach would be to make sure everything is done exactly the same way, every time.

I wonder what makes the approach you describe a modernist one. Consistency, particularly for succesful baking, is nothing new

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Thanks Bojana. I will watch that video and try their recipe.

Tri2Cook - What kind of mold did you use for the donuts? The recipe doesn't specify the size. Did you use flexipan as the recipe specifies, and does that make a difference?

Also, the recipe calls for Methocel SG A16 DOW but I can't find that at Modernist Pantry. Where did you buy yours?

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I just realized that the recipe does say the size: mini doughnuts. It seems like using regular silicone would be just fine, no? From what I understand, Flexipan is better than silicone when baking/browning, but in this recipe we're only using the pan to freeze the dough, so I think silicone is fine. Although Flexipan may be a better investment...

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I used these silicon mini savarin molds. I have a container of the SG-A16 that I got directly from DOW but you can sub the SG-A7C without problems for this application. The SG-A7C is easy to find. I'm assuming you know that the result of this recipe is nothing at all like a molten chocolate cake. It's a breaded, fried ganache with some stabilizers to keep it together while frying. They would, as pastrygirl said, work well as centers for the cakes (in which case, I'd just do them in small sphere molds) and they're fun to do as a standalone project but they're a different critter than what you were initially asking about.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Great - I had just placed that exact mold in my Amazon cart. Good timing.

I was trying to find an equivalent for the Dow but was not getting anywhere with that, so thank you so much for the info. What source did you use to figure that out?

Yes, I realize the recipe is completely different, but it sounds absolutely irresistible, and I just have to make it. I am not giving up on my quest for a reliable molten chocolate cake, just making a small detour :)

I may make a side-by-side comparison of chocolate cakes including regular ganache and spherified ganache in the center. Although I tend to agree with you that the spherification may be overkill in this case, if I can get the regular ganache to work well.

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I didn't really use a source to figure it out, just read the manufacturer specs for both and tried it. The 16 isn't going to last forever and I'm not sure about getting more so I've tried a few things subbing one for the other and had no problems. I'm sure there are some cases where it would matter because they list as having a different final viscosity but, so far, they've proven interchangeable for what I've done with them.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I wonder what makes the approach you describe a modernist one. Consistency, particularly for succesful baking, is nothing new.

There's no strict definition of modernist cooking but there is generally an increased level of precision evident. For example 'boiling' an egg in hot water is nothing new, but if you specify an exact water temperature (eg 63C) and perhaps an exact time then it probably would be. Broiling by itself would not be considered a modernist technique, but in Modernist Cuisine there is a detailed analysis of how the temperature in a broiler varies according to the layout of the heating elements and how you can calculate the 'sweet zone' accordingly. So broiling may be considered modernist if the chef has taken this into consideration and understands how the temperature in the broiler varies with position.

So baking may not be modernist, but if the chef has calculated a specific approach based on having the raw puddings at an exact temperature, in a ramekin of a specific type (e.g. black ceramic), cooked at a temperature precise to a few degrees for a time calculated accordingly, then the approach could be considered modernist. Even more so if the chef calculated the temperature and time based on the physics of heat transfer and the size of each pudding. A computer might work out that puddings are best cooked at a very high temperature for a very short time, for example. Once that maths has been done the resulting recipe may look like any other baking recipe, but the approach would be modernist.

I don't think a modernist approach automatically means unusual ingredients and high-end equipment.

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I don't think a modernist approach automatically means unusual ingredients and high-end equipment.

Agreed.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I am sure you are aware of it but just wanted to add - with this type of "simple" desserts, the quality of chocolate is of paramount importance, so use the best one you can get. Also, I read in one of the pastry books (cannot recall which one, could be Migoya) that cacao % between 55% and 66% works best for chocolate cakes that should taste of dark chocolate.

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