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Warm Chocolate Tarts -- makes 12

13 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) butter
pinch salt
9 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg whites

Although it's made with whipped egg whites, this tart batter is
quite thick and holds up well for several hours before baking.
You can make the batter and fill the tart pans up to eight hours
ahead, and then refrigerate the pans until you're ready to bake
and serve the tarts.

Bake the batter in four-inch, nonstick tart pans or non-stick muffin
moulds. Brush each pan with melted butter and coat with flour.

With a chef's knife, chop the chocolate into small pieces on a
cutting board, keeping in mind that if you eat too many of the
pieces, you'll alter the recipe. Cut up the butter and put it,
along with the chocolate in a clean, dry, microwave-safe bowl. Add
a pinch of salt in with the chocolate. Microwave on high for one
minute, stir, and repeat for one minute or until the chocolate
seems softened but still looks a some what chunky. Remove from
the microwave and stir to distribute the heat until the chocolate
is completely smooth.

Beat the egg yolks until thick; combine the egg yolks with all the
sugar except two tablespoons. Beat on high speed with the whip
attachment for about two minutes, until the mixture lightens in
color and thickens in consistency. (ribbon stage) Fold the cooled
chocolate mixture into the egg yolks with a rubber spatula until
the mixture is homogeneous.

Whip the egg whites until soft. Add the remaining two tablespoons
of sugar to the egg whites and whip at high speed just until they
form soft peaks.

Gently fold it all in together: Scoop one third of the egg whites
into the chocolate mixture. Scoop one-third of the egg whites into
the chocolate mixture and, using a rubber spatula or large whisk,
fold the mixture together until the eggs are evenly incorporated.
Then add the remaining egg whites and lightly fold them in.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tart or muffin pans so that the
batter reaches about 1/2 inch from the top. Cover the tarts with
plastic wrap and refrigerate them until you're ready to bake them.

Heat the oven to 475 degrees. If you've prepared the tarts ahead
of time, take them directly from the refrigerator to a baking sheet
and put them in the oven. Bake them for nine minutes if the batter
has been chilled, but only for eight minutes, if you're baking them
right away and the batter is room temperature. They won't look
done when you pull them out--the top may still have a spot or two
of liquid batter and they'll jiggle like firm gelatin--but pull
them out anyway. You want the outside of the tart to be like cake
and the inside warm and runny. If you overbake them, the tart will
be more cakey, but still delicious. If you underbake them, the
inside will be more saucey and won't be warm.

The tarts should be served as soon as possible after leaving the
oven, so while they're baking, prepare your plates. Loosen the
tarts, if necessary, by running a knife around the edges. Then
cover the tarts with a clean plate or baking sheet, flip over the
tart pan and shake gently to loosen from the pan. Then scoop up to
put on plate. Add a few fresh berries, a sprig of mint and a dusting
of powdered sugar.

Cooks Notes:

I used 8 oz individual ceramic souffle dishes. They were not
non-stick. But I liberally greased and floured them and the tarts
came out perfectly. It made 5-6 tarts. I baked them for 11-12

I didn't microwave the chocolate; I used a double-boiler instead.

I tossed in the whole 1/2 cup of sugar into the egg yolks. Then,
I added an additional two tablespoons to the whites.

Creme Anglaise also makes a nice sauce to have on the plate for
the tarts.


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