Matthew Mead/Associated Press
Matthew Mead/Associated Press
Love is always sweeter when expressed with chocolate! Especially on Valentineís Day.
Yes, chocolate Ė and the more ooey-gooey deeply chocolaty, the better. Still, thereís no sense overdoing it. Iíve always believed that when it comes to dessert, a little bit can go a long way. Thatís why this chocolate dream of a recipe takes the form of smallish individual cakes rather than a single, family-sized gut-buster.
Itís also why Iíve replaced the butter usually found in chocolate cakes with non-fat Greek yogurt. And trust me, not only wonít you miss the butter, but you wonít taste the yogurt. Itís in the mix strictly as a lower-fat way of adding body to the finished product.
What you will taste is chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate, specifically dark chocolate. Itís built into the cake batter, of course, but it also reappears as a melted surprise in the center of each cake. I suggest using bittersweet chocolate thatís between 60 percent and 70 percent cacao. Once the percentage gets any higher, the chocolate begins to taste too bitter to me.
The eggs in this recipe (one of only five ingredients, by the way) ensure that the cakes will be light and spongy. But one of the tricky things about cooking with eggs is that while itís easiest to separate yolks from whites while theyíre cold, itís best to add them to recipes at room temperature (they generate more volume that way).
So, how do you warm them up without wasting a lot of time? First, go ahead and separate the eggs when theyíre fresh out of the fridge. Then put the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another and float each bowl in a larger bowl of hot water. Ten minutes later the eggs will be at room temp.
By the way, I find that the best way to separate eggs is with my impeccably clean hands, rather than by using jagged-edged egg shells. I just crack the egg into my palm, toss the shell, and let the white run through my fingers. This way the yolk never breaks.
After the batter is made it needs to set up in the fridge for a little while before you put it in the oven. I discovered when I was testing this recipe that you can keep the batter in the fridge for several days before baking without any damage to the recipeís freshness. So this is the perfect make-ahead dessert for entertaining.
Given my enduring love for the combination of chocolate and raspberry, Iíve topped these little cakes with a very simple Ė but very flavorful Ė raspberry sauce. There are exactly two ingredients: raspberries and sugar. You just buzz them in a blender, then strain out the seeds.
And hereís a trick from Jacques Pepin about the quickest way to strain a sauce with seeds. Working in batches, put some of the pureed sauce in a medium-mesh strainer set over a bowl, then bang it until the only things left in the strainer are the seeds. Discard the seeds, add more sauce and continue. This method is much faster than forcing the liquid through the mesh with a rubber spatula.
Once youíre gazing with admiration at the finished product, donít be surprised if you end up giving this little Valentineís Day gift to yourself.