January Food for Thought – Warm Chocolate Truffle Cake

Sometimes called soufflé cakes, often referred to as lava cakes or even decadence cakes, they all resemble a warm chocolate cake with a soft, gooey rich chocolate center. During the late ’80s, this cake was on every dessert menu in every major city across the country. Today, there are many recipes and methods out there for achieving success with this great dessert, but I prefer a very simple method: Just bake your favorite chocolate devil’s food cake and insert a handmade dark chocolate truffle in the center of the batter, just as the cake goes in the oven, and that’s all there is to it.

The truffles take the most time to make but can be made ahead and even frozen. It’s nothing more than a ganache center that’s been shaped and set side. Then the procedure of one-step cake making and you have a fantastic chocolate dessert combining chocolate truffles and a great American devil’s food cake. Serve this great dessert warm with a spot of lightly whipped cream and a few berries. Working caramel sauce into the combination works well, too.

Start by making the chocolate ganache for the truffles to be used as the center, using equal parts cream and chocolate. Bring 1 cup (8 ounces) of heavy cream to a boil and pour over 8 ounces of good quality chopped dark bittersweet chocolate. Let the cream and chocolate mixture set several minutes for the hot cream to melt the chocolate and then whisk well to create an emulsion, which is a requirement for a great ganache. Let the ganache set overnight, or if you’re in a hurry, you can refrigerate the ganache for quicker preparation. Once the ganache is set up, use a small ice cream scoop to portion out truffle-shaped candies. Place candies in a closed container and freeze until cake batter is ready. Above recipe will make about 24 truffles if you don’t do too much tasting along the way.

Cake Batter

Serves 12

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 whole eggs

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat for three minutes on medium speed. Place batter into greased muffin cups filling them about half full.
Put in 350 degree oven for about 7 minutes. At that point, open oven and push one frozen truffle halfway down into each cake and finish baking — about 7 more minutes. Wait 5 minutes before unmolding and serve warm.

— Happy Baking, Chef James