Molten Heaven
Chocolate Molten Lava
May 9, 2005

When my mother and father-in-law went to Paris last November, they brought us back French goodies. You're looking at what I can do with two of them. Authentic brioche tins and 1 kilo of Valrhona chocolate. Well, that's only about 1 oz of Valrhona chocolate right there but not to worry, we're working on the rest.

Yum.

This molten chocolate cake (the recipe comes straight from Jean-Georges via my mother-in-law) was a test run for what I will be making on Saturday night to celebrate the End of Enterprise. And if we're crazy enough to be sad about the franchise's passing, the chocolate will undoubtedly alleviate that. As will the alcohol, which is really just to get us through the fact that they are bringing back TROI and RIKER for this farce. But I digress.

I'm thrilled to report that after days of plotting and nights of muttering about chocolate seizes and double-boilers, the test run was an unqualified success.

Whew.

See, I'm not a baker, and whenever I set out to bake sweet things, I get nervous. I love savory stuff. I know savory stuff. If something goes wrong with savory stuff, I can adapt and vamp and fix. You can't really do that with baking, and that's exactly what makes me so jumpy around flour and granulated sugar and level measurements. It's just so exacting and unyielding -- there's no room for mistakes and I usually need the room for mistakes.

I think it's because I'm impatient. I'm an impatient walker, so I walk really fast. I'm impatient about surprises, so I tend to ruin them. And I'm an impatient cook, so I tend to forget things or mismeasure or not read things right. Also, I make an unbelievable a mess when I bake. I use every bowl and spoon in the kitchen and I'm rubbing flour from behind my ears for days. If I ever want to truly feel comfortable baking, I think I need a much bigger kitchen. I need the elbow room to whip and be impatient.

Aside from all that, the cakes were delicious. They are baked quickly in a fairly hot oven, which creates an edging of moist cake while the center stays a hot, runny mass of chocolate. The hot richness coats your tongue and warms your stomach, but since the cakes are so decadent, they need a bit of a cooling freshness to cut the intensity. A scoop of ice cream is generally recommended. Straus Family Creamery has brought out a new line of ice cream from Tomales Bay and we tested their Vanilla with the cakes. Yeah, it's a good vanilla -- creamy, lots of flavor -- but it's not Hšagen-Dazs. I will be delighted to try the rest of their flavors, though.

In other news, I have a book coming out! It's not just me, either, I'm sandwiched between lots of other amazing food writers around the web. You can order the book here, and for Bay Area peeps, I'm going to be at a book signing May 21 and May 22. I'd love to have my readers come out and cheer me on, buy some strawberries, talk food, and generally revel in the food mecca that is the Bay Area.

So buy the book and get all sorts of tasty, saliva-producing writing!

Here's are the details for the signing event from my publisher over at Press for Change:

The book launch will take place on Saturday May 21st and on Sunday May 22nd. On Saturday May 21st an author talk and book signing will take place at the Berkeley Farmerís Market at 11:30AM as part of its annual Strawberry Tasting event. On Sunday May 22nd, an author talk and book signing will take place at the Lafayette Book Store in Lafayette, California at 4PM. All four of the authors who reside in the Bay Area will be present at both events and will be available for signing, interviews and discussion.

Here's how to get there:

Berkeley Farmerís Market, Saturdays 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Center Street @ M. L. King, Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA. This is in downtown Berkeley two blocks West (toward the Bay) of Shattuck and the Berkeley BART station.

Lafayette Book Store, 3579 Mt. Diablo Blvd. Lafayette, CA Contact: (925) 284-1233. This is in downtown Lafayette a very short walk from the Lafayette BART station and one block West of the downtown Safeway/Starbucks intersection.

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