Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Idiot-Proof Individual Chocolate Cakes

When it's this cold outside, then it's time to crank up the heat inside ...

... with this hunka hunka burrrnin' love!

There are times when I delude myself into thinking that I'm a baker at heart; that it's my destiny to be a master pastry chef. Then reality sinks in when I actually attempt to bake something. I've said it before and I'll say it again - "impatience doth not a pastry chef make"! I've discovered a new add-on to that ... "and neither does absent-mindedness"! So when I found that this chocolate cake recipe actually managed to survive both my shortcomings, I had to put it on a pedestal and label it "idiot-proof".

Here's how it went down: on the coldest day of the season so far, all the heaters in my apartment stopped working.

Wait, let me backtrack a bit and tell you about my living situation. DH works in a hospital and we live in the subsidized hospital housing just behind it. All these apartments were built in the '50s, and boy, does it show! Old and rickety would be a good way to describe them. The plumbing is on its last legs. The walls are so delicate that you can't risk leaning against them for too long. And the entire heating/cooling system is held together by duct-tape and prayers. Please don't think I'm whining. I've been living here for over 3 years now, and I love our life here, but facts are facts people! Needless to say, things need fixing from time to time. The heating/cooling system breaks down too many times during the year for me to keep count. Often it comes back up after a few uncomfortable hours. It used to really get to me at first, but now all I do is close my eyes, take deep breaths and chant "Ommm, it's ok Muneebaaaaa, Ommmmm, remember the low rent you're paying to live here, Ommmmmm, anywhere else in Long Island would have cost you a bloody fortune, Ommmmmm Shantiiiiiiiiiiiiii".

So when the heaters went down this time, I wasn't too worried. I gave it a few hours. But the heat didn't come back on all night long. Now, you should know, getting up to a cold house makes mama grumpy. Several phone calls were subsequently placed to Maintenance. In the meantime, I felt like the only thing that could transport me to my happy place was warm, gooey chocolate cake, swimming in its own chocolate sauce.

I usually like to make adjustments to recipes as I go along, but today I was too cold and impatient to use my noggin, so I just blindly followed this recipe that I found on Cookworm's site for Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding. The minute I put it in the oven, the doorbell rang. It was good 'ol Maintenance. This caused me to promptly forget that I had just put something in the oven, which needed to come out in about 20 mins. I was following the Maintenance guy all over the house, helping him out with anything he needed to fix my heating, so it was only after I smelled something in the oven - after a good 35 mins! - that my stomach dropped and I went running down the stairs, cursing myself, and rescued the chocolate puddings from complete disaster. To my surprise, when I dug into them, they were pretty good! I was so proud of them - such troopers, I tell ya! The only thing was, they would have been more moist, saucy and delicious if I had taken them out on time.
So learn from my mistakes, dear readers! And please make these heartwarming cakes - they survived, despite my idiocy.

Idiot-Proof Self-Saucing Chocolate Cakes (from Cookworm's tasty blog)
Serves 2

For the pudding:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:
1/2 cup soft dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup boiling water

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
2. Sift flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and cocoa powder into a bowl.
3. Add the milk, melted butter, beaten egg and vanilla extract and whisk thoroughly until combined.
4. Pour into large coffee mugs (fill halfway) or ramekins.
5. For the topping, stir the brown sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl to combine, then sprinkle it over the cups of pudding batter.
6. Pour the boiling water carefully over the puddings, then bake at 350ยบ for 18-20 minutes. Remove carefully from the oven and serve hot. Top it off with whipped cream, vanilla ice-cream, or a few toasted marshmallows (which is the route I took, thanks to my handy blowtorch! But you could just as easily stick them under the broiler for a few seconds).


Anonymous said...

Muns...these little babies look DIVINE!! (and probably taste divine too...mmmm...drool!!)

Anonymous said...

I remember eating was yummy!!!

Doppelganger said...

Oh nooo! I haven't had chocolate in months! This is torture! But I think reading this has brought me to my breaking point, and time or no time, I will try out this scrumtious looking chocolate concoction this weekend. Even if I have to do it while sleepwalking! I deserve some chocolate loving, people! Though I think your idea about vanilla icecream to go with it would go over well with the hubbs who is not a chocolate fan. He did however, devour my brownies when I added walnuts to them, so I'm thinking a little vanilla will tip the scales for this recipe too.

Doppelganger said...

Oh hey! I forgot to ask...what kind of coffee mugs did you use? I don't have ramekins (I know, for a person who likes to bake, my kitchen is dismally understocked!). I mean is there a way I can figure out if my coffee mug will survive an encounter with the hot oven?

Muneeba said...

Hah .. you know what Shai, I had the same mug issues when I first wanted to make this .. but I was so desperate that I figured "it's just two mugs, it's worth it to sacrifice them!". Lucky for me everything turned out ok. My mugs are just the regular thick ceramic coffee mugs. If you've used them in the microwave, then they should be fine in the oven too.

Anonymous said...

These look wonderful ! Yum Yum!

Megan said...

We call those molten lava cakes (get it, the runny center?)and they are yum yum yum delicious. Glad you were able to salvage them!

Anonymous said...

Wait...I just re-read this again today, espcialll the last part...You own a blowtorch!!!! Wow...kudos Muns...Your kitchen is equipped!!!

Muneeba said...

Thks Amna - the blowtorch is a lot of fun. You can bet you'll be seeing it again on this blog soon enough! Now go dive into some chocolate cake, girl!