Merry & Modern Chocolate Peppermint Molten Cakes

Holiday Guest Post from Sara Morris of Sprouted Kitchen

In the past few years, our family has 'modernized' our Christmas feast. The whole turkey, potatoes and pie menu seems tired following on the coattails of Thanksgiving, so we try to make it more fun. This year we're doing grilled pizzas (I realize this is a blessing that comes with living on the Southern West Coast) and I'm experimenting with a few different treats. Serving individual desserts feels personal, as though I am passing on an edible gift to the loved ones at my table.

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These molten cakes are the perfect size and the crushed candy cane brightens their presentation.

I typically keep things lighter, and on the Mediterranean side, in my kitchen, but chocolate desserts are the exception. By using the best quality chocolate I can find, organic dairy, and free range eggs, the end result is as good as it gets. If there is any time of year you can treat yourself, this is it. These items cost a small amount more than their conventional counterparts, but the flavors are unparalleled.

Adding peppermint to a rich chocolate dessert seems to lighten up the flavor. These simple molten cakes can be prepared in advance and simply brought to room temperature prior to baking. Anyone who sees a soft chocolatey center is surely not going to miss the pie. They would be perfect with a small scoop of good peppermint ice cream, as the extract in the recipe is far from overpowering.

Try something different this holiday; it inspires conversation and allows everyone to contribute what they like. If you want to steal hearts, you should come bearing chocolate peppermint filled ramekins.

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Chocolate Peppermint Molten Cakes
Makes 4

1/2 cup unsalted butter
5 oz. high quality bittersweet chocolate (Valrhona, and Scharffenberger are easy to find)
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoon whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
Pinch of salt
Candy cane for garnish

Preheat oven at 450°F

1. Set a glass bowl over a pot of gently boiling water (double broiler). Break up the the chocolate, and add it and the butter into the glass bowl. While the mixture is melting, whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together in another bowl until light and thick.
2. When chocolate is almost completely melted remove from the heat, stir to release some heat as it should be quite warm. Slowly pour in the eggs, peppermint extract, pinch of salt and then quickly beat in the flour until just combined.
3. Butter and flour four 4-ounce ramekins, tap out excess flour. Pour the chocolate mix evenly amongst the ramekins. At this point, you can keep them in the fridge for several hours, and simply bring them to room temperature before baking. Otherwise, bake them on a baking sheet for 6 to 7 minutes MAX, centers will be soft. Allow to sit for 3 minutes.
4. Invert the ramekin onto a plate; let them sit about 10 seconds and give the bottom a little tap, then lift. Sprinkle with candy cane, serve immediately. Accompany with unsweetened whipped cream or peppermint ice cream if desired.

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Thank you so much for sharing, Sara!
Visit Sara's weblog:
Sprouted Kitchen

• See more 2009 Holiday Guest Posts here

(Images: Hugh Forte Photography)

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