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Molten Chocolate Cake
YIELD: 6 servings

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

softened butter
9 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs plus 1 large egg white, separated (room temperature)

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
4 teaspoons Grand Marnier (optional)

powdered sugar
cocoa powder
fresh mint

Put the chocolate in a 1-quart measuring cup with a pouring spout.
In a small saucepan, set over medium heat, heat the cream and corn
syrup, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture
comes to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let the
mixture stand for 30 seconds, to melt the chocolate. Gently whisk
until smooth. Stir in the Grand Marnier, vanilla and orange zest.

Cover an ice cube tray with a piece of plastic wrap. Press down
on the plastic wrap to line six individual ice cube cavities with
plastic.

Pour the warm chocolate mixture into the six lined ice cube cavities,
filling each one to the brim. Reserve the remaining chocolate
mixture in a heat proof bowl to be used later as a sauce. Cover
and refrigerate. Cover the filled ice cube tray with plastic wrap.
Freeze the ice cube tray with the chocolate mixture for 3 to 4
hours, until frozen solid. Keep the frozen chocolate in the freezer
until ready to assemble the dessert.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425F.
Generously butter the bottom and sides of six 6-ounce ramekins.
Put the ramekins on a baking sheet.

Melt the chocolate with the water and coffee in a double boiler
set over hot water. Gently whisk until smooth. Let the chocolate
mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes, until tepid.

In a medium bowl, using a wire whisk, stir together the flour and
salt until thoroughly blended. Sift onto a piece of waxed paper.

In a large bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer set at medium
speed, beat the butter for 30 seconds until creamy. While continuing
to beat, gradually add 1/2 cup of the sugar. Beat in the vanilla.
One at a time, add the egg yolks, beating well after each addition.
Add the melted chocolate mixture and beat until smooth. Scrape down
the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

In a large clean bowl using clean beaters, beat the egg whites at
low speed until frothy. Gradually increase the speed to high and
beat the whites until soft peaks start to form. One teaspoon at a
time, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and continue beating
the whites until stiff, shiny peaks form.

Fold one-third of the whites along with one-third of the flour
mixture into the batter. One-third at a time, gently fold in the
remaining egg whites and the flour.

Spoon half of the batter, filling each ramekin a little more than
half full.

Unwrap the frozen chocolate cubes. Nestle a frozen chocolate cube
in the center of each batter-filled ramekin. Spoon the remaining
batter over the tops of the frozen chocolate cubes, covering them
completely.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the batter has risen about 1/2-inch
above the ramekin rims and the tops are slightly cracked. While
the cakes are baking, prepare the orange cream.

In a chilled bowl, whip the cream, sugar, orange zest, and Grand
Marnier until the cream starts to thicken but is still pourable.
Do not overwhip.

Gently reheat the leftover chocolate mixture over a pot of hot,
not simmering, water. Keep the sauce warm.

One at time, carefully invert the warm cakes onto large dessert
plates. Lightly sift confectioners' sugar over the tops of the
cakes. Spoon some of the orange cream around the base of each cake.
Put some cocoa powder in a sugar shaker. Lightly sprinkle cocoa
powder over the orange cream and around the plate borders. Garnish
the top of each cake with a small sprig of fresh mint. Serve
immediately and pass the warm chocolate sauce at the table.

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