Themes - Gracious and Good, Level Up
Food/Tech Tie In – Dessert, Baking, Souffle
Homage - CPCC Chef Jess Cochran
Ok, there is a real story here. Yes its rooted in baking, its kinda rooted in chocolate but leveled up by the surprise, the gift, of white chocolate. Hmm hmm that’s right, white chocolate. Sounds cool (it is), sound expensive (its not), tastes delicious (sho yah right!). A chocolate confection minus the cocoa solids, enhanced with almond...that’s where we are going.
So lets start where most of us start when it comes to delights in this theme, the chocolate lava cake. I can actually go back to the chocolate souffle, which I first had at the Maison Blanche restaurant in Paris, but I think that’s another BLOG for another time. Champagne and a walk along the Champs-Elysees were involved. Your girl has lived quite the life many times over...but lets get back to the lava cake😉.
Always enjoyed at the end of a meal especially when shared, goo-goo eyes and all, I never really understood how it was made. How did they get the pudding aka lava, inside the cake? Underneath the joyous dallop of whipped cream or the fresh fallen snow effect a dusting of confectioners’ sugar creates, traces of piping entrances where no where to be found.
Was it simply raw uncooked batter, I thought from time to time whilst spooning bite after bite into my mouth, or was it just dessert trickery by the Pastry Arts Gods, not to be questioned? Culinary school solved all of that.
Step into the light, one of my favorite Chef Instructors, Jess Cochran. In the midst of 2nd level Garde Manger class where we were focused on the nuances of presentation, aspics and defining the different between traditional hors d’oeurves, canapes, (two bites vs one bite)...he shared, showed and then led us to the temple that was, the flourless chocolate lava cake. It was on!
Once learned, it was my go to quick-ish desert, as the batter could be made, portioned into prepared ramekins and frozen raw for when the need or desired arrived to satiate a sweet tooth.
While impressive to most, creating a wow factor when tapped out of the ramekins, I wanted to push the envelope for a different flavor profile. Having folks in my orb that are not fans of chocolate (no dessert shaming intended), was a big impetus as well. All of this led to the thought...what if I could create a vanilla-ish version, enhanced with a beloved extract. Great idea right?
To the internet I went, looking for a base recipe to somehow combine with Chef Jess’s. Well...the internet had news for me. While Im sure it is out there, I could not find a flourless one and/or a version that didn’t somehow incorporate cocoa. Soooo, I did what I do best in these sitchs, I went into my head, my creativity center...and the pantry🤣, and got to work.
I wish you could have been there when my first attempt came out of the oven. I swapped out the cocoa for almond flour, which I did not sift (note: almond flour is heavier than cocoa powder...this will be relevant shortly) and added flavorings to support the almond forward direction (this changed the structure of the cake...this also will be relevant shortly). It was baked according to the original recipe, puffing up beautifully, emerging from the oven lightly golden on top.
The aroma was incredible. I let them cool slightly and my eyes were dancing as and I turned the cakes out of the ramekins. That dance quickly faded when the cakes collapsed. I mean flattened, with the center oozing out what looked like raw batter. While the taste was on point, they were a warm hot mess. The heaviness of the almond flour, the introduction of the almond extract, and the cook time which was on the shorter side, as I did not want the tops too golden brown ...indicated some changes had to be made...for real.
Round two incorporated all the fixes needed. The almond flower was sifted along with the corn starch through a hand held strainer, the cook time was to the longer end, extended based on how my oven was showing up that day, and the cooling time was a solid 15 mins.
Having already decided this was a serve in the ramekin deal, the center was soft but not runny. It filled the gap between a cake and a pudding, with the taste and mouth feel even better in this semi solid evolution. I mean it was soo successful, I got cute HereInMyKitchen and came up with a few other nut forward versions along with the almond forward version Im sharing with you.
That’s the story of the Flourless Almond Cake Pud Thang and as you have by now surmised, how it got its name. Check it out, try it out. Be it served with a quenelle of vanilla whip, a sprinkle of 10X sugar or by itself...I know you are going to dig it!
Technical info: The lava in a chocolate lava cake, is indeed cooked. The soft center is the effect of the high ratio of sugar to flour and eggs that keeps the center from becoming solid within the allotted cook time. Did you let out a whoosah breath there? You're welcomed👩🏽🍳