When Mary popped up in front of me at the Eat Boutique Holiday Market last December, she was full of smiles, with a look that just cultivated joy. In fact, she felt just as she had in her early emails to me, all kinds of excitement and ideas for the Eat Boutique blog. Here is her first, and quite timely, contribution – a beautiful, easy chocolate cake that will turn any wintery day warm. Welcome, Mary! -Maggie
So there was that one time I tried making macarons. Macarons – you know, the French confection also known as Every Bloggers Favorite Thing To Photograph, except those bloggers are smarter than I am because they are actually purchasing the macarons from professionally-trained bakers who run bakeries. For a living.
Anyway. Macarons. DIY. Impossible. I don’t care if you Google “easy macaron recipe” (“oh! 5 ingredients! This really WILL be easy!”), the recipe will not be easy and the end result will look similar to half-melted Hershey’s Kisses made out of styrofoam, and when you take a bite you’ll ask yourself, “Are these supposed to taste like this?”
At least, that was my experience with the whole situation.
One day, I’ll conquer the macaron. One day, when I have a day with no commitments or schedule, when I can leisurely tinker in the kitchen getting them just right. Which means, possibly never. And though I totally believe that there is a time and a place for fancy-schmancy ingredients and techniques and presentation and I fully, enthusiastically, almost geekily embrace and participate in those times and places, I’m also just as passionately adamant about keeping things as simple as possible. Because as I get older and supposedly wiser, I’ve realized that it’s less about the what and all about the who, the where, the when. Breaking bread with really good friends while sitting at your husband’s first attempt at a farm table on a cozy, snowy evening means that no matter what you serve, it’ll be one of the best meals you’ve ever had. Make it, serve it, and enjoy it with love – there’s your recipe for success.
The “it”, I’ve learned, doesn’t have to be a recipe with complicated steps or grocery bags full of random ingredients that you’ll only use once. (It certainly could be, though, and sometimes tackling a challenging recipe is utterly satisfying and can be a great way to learn.) But, trust me: pairing the best-you-can-afford ingredients with simple preparation often yields the very best results.
Take this recipe. Five ingredients, a few easy steps, and you have a decadent, make-ahead dessert perfect for capping off a romantic dinner for two, an impressive home-cooked meal with the in-laws, or a casual get-together with really good friends. Or just keep them in the freezer and pull one out whenever you need a chocolatey reward after a ridiculous workday.
Whenever, wherever – enjoy it.
Molten Flourless Chocolate Cake Cups
Makes six cake cups
- 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
- A hearty pinch of salt
- ½ cup sugar
- Fill a saucepan about a third of the way full with water and bring to a simmer. Combine the butter and chocolate inside a medium, heat-proof bowl and set it over the saucepan, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir until just melted. Remove from heat, and continue stirring until smooth. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, combine the egg whites and salt. Using an electric mixer, whisk until foamy; with the mixer still running, slowly add in the sugar and continue to whisk until soft peaks form.
- Stir the yolks into the melted chocolate mixture until completely blended. Gently fold in the whites.
- Divide the mixture among six oven- and freezer-safe ramekins. Cover each ramekin tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for at least two hours and for up to a week.
- When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Take the ramekins from the freezer and remove the plastic wrap. Bake for 30-35 minutes until puffed and cracked on the edges; the insides of the baked cakes will be soft and slightly gooey. Let cool five minutes before serving.
Photos taken and styled by Mary Swanson.
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