Saturday, April 28, 2007

Baking In Beijing

I love it when people share. My friend Maureen shot me an e-mail last week to tell me about her first sit-down dinner party in Beijing, where she works as a correspondent for a major American newspaper. She made beef bourguignon for eight, and ended the dinner with what she calls “the easiest chocolate dessert I have.”

Because I don’t bake chocolate often (despite what you might recall about my brownies, hunt for chocolate drinks, or premium chocolates — geez, I guess I do blog a lot about chocolate for a vanilla lover), I thought I’d share Maureen’s simple recipe.

She got the recipe from her husband’s stepmom, and it looks like she got it from a cookbook called Classic Home Desserts: A Treasury of Heirloom and Contemporary Recipes From Around The World. This recipe is credited to Thomas Keller, the celebrated Napa Valley chef and owner of French Laundry, who calls it a tart even though it doesn’t have a crust.

Maureen describes this cake as “cake-like on the outside, but soft and gooey inside … like a warm Valrhona chocolate cake dessert.” OK, I’m so not the chocolate person that I thought Valrhona was misspelled. At least my Word program keeps telling me that. Maureen says it’s important to use quality chocolate, although she didn’t mention Valrhona. Instead, she says she used “4 oz. of 85% Lindt chocolate from France, and 4 oz. of 70% Valor chocolate from Spain.” You must think Beijing is pretty fancy to have all these European chocolates, but my guess is that Maureen probably brought a supply with her after her recent ski trip in France. (Am I right, Maureen?)

You’ll see in the photo that she served the cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but she says “I think it might be delish with raspberries or a sharp sorbet, but I didn’t have access to fresh berries nor good sorbet.” Finally, she says it’s important not to over bake it.

Looks elegant and yummy. I may end up making it despite what I say about my lack of a chocolate gene. Thanks for sharing Maureen!

Thomas Keller’s Molten Chocolate
(from “Classic Home Desserts,” copyright Richard Sax and Houghtin Mifflin Co.)

4 oz. best-quality imported semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 ½ oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
10 T (1 stick plus 2 T) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
3 large eggs
½ cup plus 2 t all-purpose flour
¾ t baking powder
1 ½ T unsweetened cocoa powder

Vanilla ice cream or vanilla-flavored whipped cream, for serving

1. Lightly butter six 1 –cup ramekins or custard cups; set aside. Place the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over a saucepan of hot water over low heat (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water). Stir occasionally until the chocolate melts; remove from the heat.

2. When the chocolate is smooth, stir in the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, flour, baking powder and cocoa. Beat with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until the mixture is pale and has a thick, mousse-like consistency; about 5 minutes.

3. Fill the ramekins ½ full, cover each with plastic wrap. Freeze for at least 3 hours. (The ramekins can be filled and frozen up to 3 days in advance.)

4. Just before serving time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack at the center. Bake the cold desserts until the outer edges of the tops are set, but the centers are still moist and shiny, usually 10 to 11 minutes. Invert each portion onto a serving plate and serve warm, with a small scoop of the vanilla ice cream or a spoonful of vanilla-flavored whipped cream. Alternatively, serve directly from the ramekins.

Makes 6 servings.


Nicole said...

Hi, do you know where to buy Valrhona chocolate for baking or Lindt for baking in Beijing?

Chef Ben said...

I emailed my friend Maureen who posted the original chocolate recipe and this is what she said about chocolate-shopping in Beijing. Hope this helps!

"In China, you can get Lindt and other brands of imported chocolate such as Droste or Toblerone at Jenny Lou's, a small supermarket chain that has at least five locations that I know of: on the northeast corner of Ritan Park; at the west gate of Chaoyang Park; around the corner from SOS hospital in Sanlitun's embassy district (behind the German embassy); at Dong Hu Bie Shu or East Lake Villas on Dongzhimenwai Da Jie; and in Shunyi, the expat-dominated neighborhood of villas near the airport."