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Exploring New Frontiers


JustKay
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I would greatly appreciate if any of you have any tips or ideas before I have a go with this recipe.

And if you think this recipe can be halved. And what size ring moulds are best?

And also, if the cake needs to be kept in the fridge and warmed before serving.

Thanks a bunch.

(Or is this too ambitious an attempt for a home baker? :wink: I have always wanted to try to make 'molten chocolate cake' but not the ones where you just underbake the whole cake. This sounds like a yummy cake but unfortunately, no picture)

recipe link

(Edited by Forum Host to remove copyrighted material)

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Howdy.......

Here's my thoughts.....

*no reason why you can't halve the recipe.....I don't see any problems with that....

*if you use ring molds, the 2 or 3 inch diameter suited for individual servings would probably be best

*you can probably also use ramekins.....line the sides of the ramekins with the cocoa dusted parchment then butter and cocoa the bottoms of the ramekins (in fact, ramekins might work better with the method I have in mind, below)

*Obviously, this is a dessert intended to be served warm. So, you COULD bake them all in advance, store them in the fridge and re-warm them before serving, or (this is what I do)

you just bake them a la minute. This is why I like to use ramekins, because they are easier to

store in the fridge (especially a home fridge). If you do the ring mold method, you have to stick the whole sheet pan in the fridge, and a lot of people just don't have that kind of room. I fill the properly prepared ramekins with the cake batter (stick the coffee mold in there too), wrap them in plastic wrap, then when I need to serve the cakes, I just take them out of the fridge and pop 'em in the oven (since they only take 14 minutes or less to bake). Nothing better than a warm cake right out of the oven.....this is how this particular dessert is meant to be eaten, so take advantage of that fact.

I don't think it's too ambitious for a home baker.....it's easy in that it's all made in advance....

at serving time, you just bake, unmold, and serve!

Have fun! :wub:

Annie

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Annie, thank you so much for your reply.

I think I will bake them in ramekins as suggested. Great idea.

I am also thinking of trying to freeze the baked product (the cake part) and then just thaw and warm it up and assemble before serving. This is if I have a lot of this to make and other stuff to make too to serve at the same function.

Again, thanks.

edited to add : I just visited your website and your creations are simply wonderful. I am really lousy at cake decorating and that's why I mostly look for cakes like this one I'm trying to make which does not need piped decoration, but can be plated nicely anyways. Maybe one day I will be able to learn to decorate half as good as you do (dream on kew ... :biggrin: )

Edited by kew (log)
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If you want to present the cake as described in the recipe there may be a problem with using ramikins. Cakes don't like to release from ramikins all the time... but if you are not using the tuiles then don't even worry about it.

Cory Barrett

Pastry Chef

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Hi Cory!

:unsure: ... not even if it's well buttered and lined with greased parchment at the bottom?

What about this idea - bake them in cupcake/muffin pans lined with the paper cups. Then I could just peel off the paper on the plate itself. You think this will work?

I think I'll just dust the cake with some icing sugar instead of cocoa since the cake is already chocolate. Or do you have any suggestions?

It would be great to see a picture of the original creation though.

I'm not sure of doing the tuilles but I'm gonna try. I have not been successful with tuiles that I've tried so far.

Thanks for your reply.

Edited by kew (log)
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Hi again....!

The IDEAL way to use the ramekin would be to cut circles out of parchment that are the same size as the bottom of it. Grease and cocoa it the same way you would the parchment to line the sides. It'll come out no problem, I'm sure. I've done molten chocolate cakes before, and it's true no matter how well you butter and flour the ramekins, sometimes those suckers don't wanna come out. Parchment is truly a life saver.

Don't use the muffin liner things! Even if you grease them, I think the little folds in the liners will make it a major bitch to peel off the cakes.....and I don't think lifting them straight out of the tin will work.....the dessert is to be unmolded onto the plate which leads me to believe it's somewhat fragile. If you do it the muffin tin way, I'm afraid your cake won't have much of a shape by the time it gets to the plate!

If you sprinkle icing sugar on the warm cake, the steam and moisture will probably make the sugar "disappear" quickly, so it may be a waste of time to try that. Besides, I'm imagining the dessert in my head, and it looks kind of cool if you dust it with cocoa and some of the dusting falls on the tuiles.

Tuiles are actually pretty easy.....and if you have a silpat, it's even better. You just need to

remember to bake a few at a time and not let them get too brown (if at all!).

Cheers.... :laugh: Annie

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Annie!

That's why you're the pro and I'm the lowly home baker. :biggrin:

Of course, the cake is to be served warm so no icing sugar!

I'm thinking it'll behave like a cupcake/mufin but again you're right, it does sound like it's a fragile cake because even the tuile is inserted before the ring gets off. :wacko: Definitely do not want to break the cake and let all the goey stuff flow all over.

It's great to bounce of ideas before I actually try this or else I would have made lots of misakes. Thank you so much for helping.

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It occurs to me that if you're making this at home it might also lend itself to a slightly less formal - though still spectacular - presentation. I bet it would be pretty simple to adapt the recipe to make one big cake rather than individual ones. Sometimes for a small party one large handsome cake is just more impressive. I don't know exactly how you'd have to adjust the baking time - but wouldn't it work in a bundt-type ring-mold version? use the tuiles as petals so that the whole thing is like one big daisy. If you're clever about spacing/placing the ganache balls in relation to the pattern on the mold you can probably cut and serve it without giving away the "surprise" until someone actually puts fork to slice. OTOH, depending on the crowd and the occasion, it might be fun to have the ganache contiguous all round - the serving process wouldn't be as neat, but it would have a wonderfully generous look and feel.

The only reason I can think of why it might not work would be the density of the cake; I assume the individual ones get some of their structural integrity from the crusty edge. I suppose without that the cake itself might be too fragile to work as a reservoir. Still... I'd sure be tempted to try it!

Oh all you experienced real bakers out there, what do you think?

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Hi Lisa!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I did think about maybe trying it out as a whole cake in a bundt pan. Actually, I'd prefer it to be one whole cake. But I was afraid the batter/crust won't hold. I do have a springform bundt pan which would help with removal of cake. But like you mentioned, how to mark where the ganache balls area so one doesn't cut thru it? :hmmm: Wouldn't it be too messy if everything just kind of oozes out?

I think I'll try the ramekins and cake ring and see how the cake structure is first.

Isn't anyone else interested in actually trying this with me? :smile: Or who have actually made something like this?

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I think that with this recipe you would be best off baking it when you are ready to serve since the melted ganache ball will tend to be absorbed if you do it in advance. You will also get the best melt and response to freshly baked not rewarmed.

second - I think that these really NEED to be baked individually to get the centers up to temp and the cake cooked - quickly The single large one sounds like trouble. This is a liquid center cake--like a coulant, a molleux--not a "cake" cake.

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I agree with chefette!

I wouldn't bake one big one......it really defeats the purpose and pleasure of the dessert

on many fronts.

Definitely try it doing the small ones first......you'll know right away whether a large one

would have been a disaster or not.

As with all recipes, I always test them AS WRITTEN first.....then I make the adjustments.

You just never know what is going to happen until you try it.

Cheers! :biggrin: Annie

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Yeah, I too would try it as written first - in theory - though in practice I often find it very hard to refrain from a little tinkering. This is probably why I'm better at cooking than baking! :biggrin:

kew, I'd love to try this recipe (believe me, I bookmarked it the moment I got a good look at it), but I'd have to have SOME kind of occasion for it or I'd end up eating the whole batch myself. I'm not dancing these days, so that would constitute a Very Bad Idea.

And BTW, for the record, I do think the one-big-cake thing is a potentially dubious undertaking, fraught with peril at best. But to play devil's advocate just for the hell of it - sorry, but I can never resist thinking outside the pan, as it were - here are a couple of my further thoughts on the subject.

First of all, the potential messiness of serving - yeah, that's why I said "for some crowds." Like cozy friends who like to get their fingers into the yummy goopy stuff. I.e., NOT for a formal dinner party, but maybe for a gossipy afternoon kaffee-klatsch.

The potential structural pitfalls - the texture of the cake not being strong enough to hold up in that form factor, and the inside temperature not being high enough to melt the balls - yeah, well, as I said I'm not at all sure about that, nor would I be until I'd had some experience with this particular batter and the texture of the cake as written. Yes, those could both be serious problems. But - one thing I was thinking was that if you were to try putting it all together in one, you'd probably want to, or indeed have to, make the balls smaller. Which might solve both problems. Using a relatively shallow pan would also contribute on both fronts, I imagine.

As for defeating the purpose and pleasure... well, maybe, maybe not. Yes, this recipe was designed for single-serving presentations. But it was also designed for a restaurant, for which it's perfect in that regard: customer orders it, you take your refrigerated single ramekin or mold, put it in the oven, and 14 minutes later it's hot and delicious and fresh. You couldn't do that in a restaurant setting with the big cake, so in that instance form really does follow function. But in a different setting a different form might be just as wonderful in a different way - you can't be sure until you try. (It's like saying Mozart, to be authentic, should only be played on a fortepiano because in Mozart's day there was no pianoforte. But nobody can say with any confidence that Mozart wouldn't have jumped at the chance to play and to write for a modern piano if the technology had been available!)

Hey it's just a thought experiment, something to play with. In any case you'd never serve something like this if you hadn't done a successful trial run (or I wouldn't, at any rate, except to very close and sympathetic friends - the kind you can invite to an Eat-My-Mistakes party).

As for how to place the balls - assuming all the other doubtful elements actually do miraculously work - that part should be pretty easy if you have the right kind of pan. As long as it's sufficiently ornamented and embossed that there are clear ridges in the shape of the finished cake, your slicing pattern is going to be pretty clearly predefined anyway, so you would just place the balls accordingly.

This pan isn't an ideal example, but it certainly illustrates pretty clearly how you could place the balls with some confidence as to the results at slicing time.

B00004RFQ4.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

That said... I'd certainly try it as written first! And after doing so the whole idea of the adaptation might just go right out of the window based on any or all of the above obstacles/objections, not mention those we haven't even thought of yet but which might become obvious as soon as you have the real actual cake itself in front of you. :unsure::huh::wacko:

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I have a blueberry sour cream coffee cake in the oven right now, in that very pan pictured above. But as far as the little liquid center chocolate cakes go, I looked at that recipe and it looks a little contrived. You don't need ground almonds in there, that's some pastry chef showing off. In fact, you don't need to make these at all, at least this week. They're on sale at Whole Foods.

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Thanks Chefette and Lisa. I'm gonna go buy some cake rings maybe tomorrow.

McDuff - I do think the the almond flour affects the finished product. One might choose to omit it and just use all flour if one wishes though, but I think it's an elegant touch. In any case, I am nowhere near Whole Foods. And I've never seen this type of cake sold anywhere where I am. In fact, I've never eaten one. Hence my intrigue in learning to make one.

:smile:

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You don't need ground almonds in there, that's some pastry chef showing off.

So, uh, isn't that the very nature of a pastry chef......to show off?

I know if I have a chance to do that I seize the moment.

Carpe Sucre!!! :raz:

I ain't in the biz, for the money honey! :laugh:

:wub: Annie

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No, I don't that's the case all the time. Sometimes it isn't so much what more one can pile on, but what can be taken away, distilling something down. This recipe just has too much going on in it for me to take it too seriously.

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You've asked and answered your own speculations balmagowry, very well. There isn't any reason why you couldn't bake off a successful big messy but dubious version of this individual cake but what will you have gained?

It's always better to "do" first--whether you're a pro or a home baker--before thinking outside the pan, before speculating, imagining, changing right off the bat. If you do, it becomes easier to refine, ask questions and easier to understand the whys behind the whats and hows. I also think it's up to each pastry chef to determine what their nature is--and at eG we support many seemingly conflicting natures--some show off, some do architectural things that couldn't be more irrelevent to the food which preceded it--others focus on creating interesting, personal desserts which match the cuisine of their chefs. Still others are trying to find their way. To each his or her own--and hopefully each reaches an audience or connects with an audience--whether that audience is your immediate family or an entire city or country.

But, the technique (inserting a ball of ganache into the cake batter of an individual chocolate cake) of this recipe has been around for a long time, it's in the Michel Bras Dessert cookbook and it was featured in that prominent LA Times series with Thomas Keller years ago. I've seen a percentage of rice flour in some recipes instead of almond flour. Do it in a ring (I'm less inclined to a ramekin but that's subjective) and there's no reason why you couldn't bake it ahead, hold it, rewarm it in a microwave, and serve. We've had previous threads about similar cakes which rewarm well a la minute, I recall Patrice talking about how even the Bras coulants can be baked ahead successfully.

The one comment I think has to be addressed directly, though, is when someone says "you don't need "x"...that's just some pastry chef showing off" for with that they reveal their own limitations, that they're missing the bigger picture of creativity, taste and expression which is possible in food. It's not about what any of us feels is "needed" to execute a "somewhat vaguely similar cake I may have made before," it is more about opening your mind to creativity, to personal expression, to learning what you can from the way someone else does something first--and then forming your own opinion about it after you do it. (It may not work for you.) But do it first, then judge. Frankly, adding a percentage of almond flour to many cakes can improve those cakes--making them more complex, more rich, more enjoyable, more interesting or more luscious, in certain applications. In one restaurant I do a ravani (semolina) cake which is better though less traditional and authentic because I added 20% almond flour to the batter. Unless you've tasted "my" cake the way I bake it and serve it in my dessert application (with dried fruits included almond, pine nut, pomegranate and a yogurt/lebne sorbet) don't say "you don't need the almond flour" unless you've made it and the more traditional cake and found the latter superior. That's where the creativity, palate and skills of a chef and pastry chef comes into play--the proof is in the end result whether something seems needed or not. In general, it is wise not to speculate about--let alone blindly criticize the work of others which you haven't tasted, haven't made and/or may not understand. That would be like telling Philippe Conticini--who sprinkles complex mixtures of spices and mingles many seemingly disparate ingredients in his very delicious, very poetic desserts--"you don't need all those spices"--or saying to Mozart, you have too many notes. Do you want to be one of those people who thought Mozart's music had too much going on to take seriously?

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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In general, it is wise not to speculate about--let alone blindly criticize the work of others which you haven't tasted, haven't made and/or may not understand. That would be like telling Philippe Conticini--who sprinkles complex mixtures of spices and mingles many seemingly disparate ingredients in his very delicious, very poetic desserts--"you don't need all those spices"--or saying to Mozart, you have too many notes. Do you want to be one of those people who thought Mozart's music had too much going on to take seriously?

Well put, Steve!

:wub: Annie

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You've asked and answered your own speculations balmagowry, very well.  There isn't any reason why you couldn't bake off a successful big messy but dubious version of this individual cake but what will you have gained?

Not a damn thing - because as I also said more than once, I wouldn't dream of trying the experiment unless I still wanted to do so after making the recipe as written and finding out what it's actually like, both to work with and to eat.

As for the speculating and the thinking outside the pan, do remember that that's all it is: speculating and thinking. Not by any means the same as doing and desecrating - indeed, a long chalk away from even implying any disrespect. And in that vein, I don't see it as analogous to criticizing Mozart or trying to change his work; it's more like improvising variations on one of his themes, an exercise which he himself - not to mention every serious musical performer then and since - was often required to perform at the drop of a hat. (Hey - would anyone still remember Diabelli if Beethoven hadn't immortalized him with a set of variations?)

In general, it is wise not to speculate about--let alone blindly criticize the work of others which you haven't tasted, haven't made and/or may not understand.

Well, hang on a sec - let's think about this a little. I certainly concur that it is unwise (as well as unfair) to criticize blindly; but I can't agree that it is unwise to speculate. On the contrary - I think it's the very essence of a healthy imagination. As to understanding this work which I haven't yet tasted, again I can't argue with that: of course I don't. But I do think that I understand it a good bit better now than I did when I first read the recipe, precisely because I've played some mental games with it. It's a roundabout way of getting there, of course, where the straightest line between the two points would have been to bake and eat; nevertheless, at the end of the day I come away from the process having given a lot of thought to texture and temperature and flavors and form and structural integrity - having imagined these things very vividly - far more than I could ever get from simply reading straight through.

Dunno - maybe it's an ADD thing. I was talking to someone about this just yesterday: some people learn and grasp better by following the linear path, just reading the text and hearing the lecture; others need to stop periodically and test out the assumptions and hare off on the tangents in order to get the concepts solidly settled in the brain. IAC, it's all pure thought experiment, intellectual exercise; at worst, it's a harmless amusement, so far as it goes. Like playing variations, it keeps the grey cells limber. And - dare I say? - it's kind of fun. Seems to me this is one of the way-way-coolest things about eGullet: that it's a place where one can indulge such fancies by discussing them with other like-minded (and often much more knowledgeable) people, actually being able to ask the questions that arise instead of having to content oneself with guessing at the answers in a vacuum.

I believe it's the financial biz (?) that refers to this sort of thing as "anticipating structural risks." Me, I just think of it as playing "what if" - and I don't think it's entirely inappropriate to a thread entitled "Exploring New Frontiers"! :cool:

EDIT to add: Forgot to mention - while I'm a great believer in "doing" first, there are sometimes situations where it may not be feasible to "do" at all. That's where these fantasy scenarios really come in handy; at any rate, they're a whole lot better than nothin'!

Edited by balmagowry (log)
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Yup, I'm gonna try this soon (still haven't bought the cake rings yet) and will post pictures and result. Even if it's a failure.

And I am trying it based on the recipe as given. As it is.

I usually like to give a recipe I plan on trying some thoughts before I actually make them. (I surf the Net for recipe variations and read comments, etc... ) I very rarely just go ahead and bake a recipe that I see/found. Especially something like this which is rather alien to me and concocted by a famous pastry chef no less. :biggrin: (It might have been around for a long time but I've never seen it sold or made in any bakeries here!)

And I really do appreciate all the thoughts shared. Which has now convinced me to make them as it is, rather than tweaking it if I were to just plunge right into trying it.

Thank you for all the replies.

p.s. Well Lisa ... it is indeed a new frontier in baking for me! I even have to buy cake rings. :biggrin: A big step indeed for a home baker. LOL!

Edited by kew (log)
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And in that vein, I don't see it as analogous to criticizing Mozart or trying to change his work; it's more like improvising variations on one of his themes, an exercise which he himself - not to mention every serious musical performer then and since - was often required to perform at the drop of a hat.

I don't think we're disagreeing on too much Lisa--this analogy might be the last sticking point but it can be easily overcome: it's self-evident most of us have to be able to do--to play adequately--before we can improvise, the key for kew here "exploring new frontiers" is speculation, informed or otherwise, doesn't help her at this point as much as developing the skills and awareness to do it exactly the way a vastly more experienced pastry chef says to do it and first understanding what's going on and why, just like informed improvisation of a Mozart theme has to stem first from musicians who have been grounded, learned their craft through some experience and/or training, not only to play chopsticks on the piano but to play the Well Tempered Clavier.

My perspective I guess is that musicians, just like pastry chefs and home bakers, should be the faithful mechanic, questioning all along sure, until they've acquired enough of the skills, dexterity and understanding under their belt so that when they think they're ready to take a stab at the poetic, the personal, the outside the pan--they have more of a chance of succeeding. This is the walk before you run--lest you run wild--notion. Of course, I'll be the first to join you in saying the proof is always in the pudding--a musical improvisation like a dessert experiment either works or it doesn't--but for most people reading along like kew, there's a time-tested process to be able to get to that point of departure.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Hmph ... I guess my title post could mean different things eh?

What I meant actually was that this dessert and it's technique as well as the combination of cake and tuille is a new one for me - hence my "exploring a new frontier".

And being a home baker faced with a new challenged, so to speak, I seek out thoughts about the recipe, process, potential mistakes, etc, BEFORE I attempt it i.e. trying to find out all I can about it.

Thanks everyone. : :smile:

Edited by kew (log)
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I don't think we're disagreeing on too much Lisa

I don't think we're really disagreeing on anything at all - except perhaps the question of how seriously to take the course of the thread... and/or ourselves. I'd say my chief sin here, if such it be, was and is that I can never resist indulging in my own flights of fancy when the opportunity presents itself, and that that admittedly is not a whole lot of practical help to kew! So if practical assistance was the sole aim here, I stand guilty of distraction, digression, and possibly irrelevance.

OTOH, I had me some fun flexing the old cerebellum.

Read.... Chew.... Discuss....

before we can improvise, the key for kew here "exploring new frontiers" is speculation, informed or otherwise, doesn't help her at this point as much as developing the skills and awareness

Ah, yes, the key for kew....

key

for kew...

and kew

for key...

me

for you...

and you

for me...

:shuffle: :ball change:

:giggle: sorry, the setup was just too good to resist.

I'll be good now. Honest. :wink::raz:

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...... is not a whole lot of practical help to kew!

Lisa, every bit helps. I really appreciate every reply to my post.

I don't know if it's a wrong approach but like I've said, I usually try to find out whatever I can about a certain new recipe before I attempt it. And then, discuss the outcome after I've actually tried it. This is what I usually do in other forums I've participated but I'm new to eGullet and am trying to learn how it works.

I surfed and surfed for 'molten chocolate cake' and alas I think I found what I'm looking for and sounds good. I wasn't just looking for the 'regular' molten cake with a jiggly center to try ya know. :wink: That would be to me, like eating a semi-baked cake. :raz:

You're good Lisa. :wub: But what does balmagowry mean? :wink:

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