Baked hot chocolate: a new texture experience (photo by F. Martin Ramin courtesy Wall Street Journal).  Prefer marshmallows? Pile them on (photo courtesy Framed Cooks).  You can use the same recipe for an elegant dessert like this (photo courtesy Fabulous Foods).
What’s baked hot chocolate?
Substitute butter and eggs for the milk, and stick it in the oven.
O.K., it’s not really baked hot chocolate, but the name is fine. It’s not a brownie or cake, since it has no flour. The result is a mash-up of a brownie, a baked pudding and a chocolate soufflé. It’s cousin to a lava cake.
The top layer is slightly crisp; the middle is pudding-like (similar to lava cake), and, at the bottom, you may find some hot chocolate. When served in a cup, the top covered with whipped cream or marshmallows, it is trompe l’oeil food fun.
The recipe is said to have originated with Heidi Friedlander (now Robb), a pastry chef who first served it more than a decade ago at Moxie, a Cleveland bistro, where it is still the favorite dessert.
The recipe ended up in The Essence of Chocolate cookbook by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg, founders of the Scharffenberger chocolate company (now part of Hershey). We adapted this recipe from theirs.
Our favorite garnish is lightly-sweetened whipped cream with a teaspoon of orange liqueur (e.g. Grand Marnier), bourbon or rum. Since there’s currently a Reddi-Wip shortage, you can use the opportunity to make your own whipped cream. It’s fun, and it tastes glorious.
Our article on how to make whipped cream also has recipes for salted caramel, lavender and five spice whipped cream.
These treats-in-a-cup can be served warm or at room temperature, topped with whipped cream.
These can be made a day in advance and refrigerated, ungarnished. To reheat, first bring to room temperature; then place in a 350°F oven until warm, about 5 minutes.
Total prep/cook time is 40 minutes.
Ingredients For 4 Servings
*The finer the chocolate, the finer the flavor of the finished dish. You can chop up good chocolate bars.
1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Place four eight-ounce ovenproof tea cups/coffee cups in a baking pan. If you don’t have ovenproof cups you can substitute ramekins or custard cups, but you lose the trompe l’oeil effect.
2. MELT the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler. The water in the bottom should be barely simmering; the underside of the top section should not touch the water. As it slowly melts, whisk or stir the chocolate occasionally. When fully melted, remove the top section of the double boiler and place the lid on the bottom section, to keep the water simmering. Stir the optional spices into the melted and set aside.
3. PLACE the eggs and sugar in a heatproof mixing bowl; then set bowl over the simmering water. Stir until warm to the touch (about 1 minute); then turn off the heat and remove the bowl to the counter.
4. BEAT the egg mixture with an electric beater at high speed, until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Gently fold the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula.
5. SPOON the batter into the cups. Add very hot water to baking pan, to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the tops lose their glossy finish and begin to look crusty: 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the cups from the pan and onto saucers. Top with whipped cream and serve immediately; or set aside and garnish when ready to serve. Serve with a spoon!
For a marshmallow garnish: Sprinkle the marshmallows on top and return the cups to oven for 2 to 4 minutes, until the marshmallows or marshmallow cream begin to crisp. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. You can sprinkle them with a bit of cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg or other favorite.
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