Monday, April 6, 2015

Yellow Cake. Double Chocolate Frosting. Enough Said.

Life has been so hectic of late that it's hard not to take up a lot of blog space talking about it. But, this busy-ness has replaced a year of solitude and contemplation and is very, very welcome. Last February, when we moved to San Diego for real (we went back and forth between LA, SF and SD for about 9 months before settling here), I was a bit overdone from a year and a half of moving around. My friendships here have been slower in coming than they were in Virginia (where we were for only 8 months before the LA-SF-SD craziness began) and my confidence at making new friends has been, at times, shaky. There are, though, a couple of people who've made becoming friends so easy, it feels like we've known each other forever. Candice is one such person.

The first time I met Candice was in the sand box outside our daughters' classroom and I swear I looked up and saw the most beautiful brunette muse. She turned out to be the friendliest person I'd met in San Diego so far and one who has included my sometimes-shy family in everything from trick-or-treating to a beachside New Year's Eve celebration.

Candice is kind of like the little sister I never had - a little sister who's got it a lot more together than I do! She's an incredible hostess and entertainer who holds down a director-level job like it's no big deal. I mean, this woman can make a ridiculously impressive cheese platter and she'll just show up at a kids' play date after working all day with everything from gorgonzola to honeycomb. She's also a doting but firm Italian mama to two of the cutest, kindest towheads you'll ever meet. If that weren't enough, she's married to a gentle and funny surfer dude and, at her rawther young age, they've been an item for almost 20 years.

When I found out Candice's birthday was last week, well, you know what I did. I took out my favorite baking books and in Julie Richardson's Vintage Cakes (I know. You're thinking that I should just be blogging about baking all of her recipes because you see so many of them here. But, TRUST me. This book is solid!) found something I hoped would please parents and children.

We met "the Candices", as my husband and I call them, and our other favorite friends at Korean BBQ and after a feast of kimchee and steak, dived into these cupcakes like there was no tomorrow. The buttery, soft crumb was so surprising because these babies are pretty sturdy and traveled pretty well in the car. My made-up frosting (Julie's was a bit too ambitious for the time I had available) worked out well enough to share with you. Silky and creamy, the frosting definitely tastes of chocolate and cream, which, funny enough, is exactly what it's made from. Hehe.

Anyhow, I'm not sure if yellow cake and chocolate frosting is Candice's favorite, but it sure made our taste buds happy and made us all feel more connected. Which, really, is what this baking thing is all about.

Happy Birthday, Candice!



Yellow Cake.
Makes 24 cupcakes or (3) 9" layers
1-1/3 C sifted cake flour
3/4 C plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
6 T unsalted butter, at room temp
2 C sugar
1/2 C canola oil
1 T pure vanilla extract
4 egg yolks, at room temp
3 eggs, at room temp
1/2 C buttermilk, at room temp
1/2 C heavy cream, cold

Line 24 muffin tins with pretty cupcake papers. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 350.

1. In a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt then whisk to ensure ingredients are well combined.
2. Cream the butter and sugar on medium-high until light in color and texture, about 5 minutes.
3. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the oil and vanilla and mix.
4. Add in the yolks and whole eggs one at a time, scraping down your bowl between each addition.
5. With the mixer on low, add in the flour mixture in three parts and the buttermilk in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape the bowl after each addition and don't overmix.
6. In a separate bowl (preferably chilled and stainless steel, but anything will do), whip the cream until soft peaks form.
7. Carefully fold the cream into the batter.
8. If you have one of those giant ice cream scoops, you can use that to scoop the perfect amount of batter into each cup. If not, use two spoons or one ladle to fill each cup 3/4 full.
9. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes. They'll be a bit browned on the edges.
10. Set aside to cool until room temperature.

Double Chocolate Frosting.
4 oz. milk chocolate
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 C cream, hot
5 C powdered sugar
1/2 C butter, at room temp
2 t vanilla
1/4 t salt

1. Heat the cream to hot but not boiling.
2. While the cream is on the stove top, break your chocolate into tiny bits and place them in a glass bowl.
3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit 2 minutes, then whisk until combined.
4. Sift the sugar and salt into your stand mixer.
5. With your mixer on low, add the chocolate mixture, butter and vanilla. Once it's all combined, turn the power up and whip until light and spreadable. If it's too thick, add a tablespoon at a time of cream. If it's runny, add 1/4 C powdered sugar at a time until it's spreadable.

You can either pipe or spread the frosting on. Sprinkles are optional but so much fun!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cheri's Coconut Cake

This post should really be called "Ode to my Mother." Here's the thing: without my mom (an incredible home cook who taught me everything I know), I would not bake. This blog would not exist. Lulu would maybe be a figment in someone else's imagination. My mom has formed and informed me. My mom. Beautiful California girl that she is. Elegant and clever and well-read. Catholic school girl turned "I'm with the band" woman turned 5th and 6th grade teacher. And who knows whether all of her transformations are complete. Perhaps, as she turns 70 this year, she will reinvent herself yet again and surprise us all. As she is wont to do.

If you'll indulge me, I'd like to share a little family history. My mom was born Cheryl Ann Walker somewhere in North Carolina (granddad was a Marine who flew fighter jets) but soon moved to China before landing in Beverly Hills, California at about three years old. Little Cheri ended up in convent school and later graduated from Immaculate Heart in Hollywood. Then, she surfed and flew.

My mom has always been a golden girl. A tandem surfer and and ocean lover, she spent all her time at the beach earning the nickname "Peely" for her constantly peeling nose. By this time, mom had a stepbrother who she nicknamed Teddy Bear Rug (this woman has a serious talent for clever monikers, silly songs and general word play) who also surfed and all her friends were the guys they surfed with. Gorgeous but accessible, sharp but impressionable, and infinitely classy, my mom was kind of like the Reese Witherspoon of her crowd.

Mom met my dad on a Continental Airlines flight in 1968. She was a stewardess. Yes, I know we don't use that term anymore, but they did then.  I believe his opening line had something to do with the Rolling Stones pin my mom had rebelliously smuggled onto her uniform collar, but it probably didn't hurt that my dad was as handsome as she is beautiful and he was always, always charming. Still is, darn it. Anyhoo, Dad wanted to move in with Mom but being the good Catholic she was, that wasn't going to happen. Much to both my grandmothers' consternation, Billy and Cheri eloped four months after meeting and soon had me, Erik and Adam, in that order.

When I was little, I thought all those now-classic-rock songs were about my mother. "Sister golden hair surprise...", "Blue jean baby. LA Lady...", and "We go to a party and everyone turns to see this beautiful lady that's walking around with me..." seemed to have been written, if not about her, then certainly for her, at least in my child's mind.
All the way back in October of 2014, my mom turned 69. And you know what she told us she wanted? A cake. That's all. Just a cake. Seems like a simple request to fulfill for a baker, right? Somehow between living 2 hours from my mom, an early November visit from my brother and his family (from Taiwan), Thanksgiving and then Christmas, this small gift never materialized. Sure, there were pies and cakes and all kinds of sweets for the holidays, but a special birthday cake for my mother did not happen. Shame on me!

I had to make this right. As spectacularly as I could. My mom's favorite is coconut cake (well, that or princess cake, but I traditionally make her coconut) and I've made many different recipes for her in the past. I've filled them with coconut pastry cream, buttercream, whipped cream. You name it. This time, I wanted a traditional cake with a light, fluffy filling/frosting. All I really had to do was swap coconut milk for buttermilk from the buttermilk cake recipe I posted last September, add coconut extract and a little fresh coconut garnish and it was, as my dad (they are not still married but great friends and happened to stop by. He really has a nose for these things) said, "better than Ralph's". For my non-California friends, Ralph's is a supermarket chain. My dad still knows how to make a girl feel special!

I hope you feel the way about your mom that I feel about mine. She has become my primary confidante, my greatest supporter and truest friend. I'm already planning her 70th and you'd better believe there will be cake!



Cheri's (Better-Than-Ralph's) Coconut Cake
Makes one 3-tiered 8"layer cake
1 C butter, at room temp
1-3/4 C sugar
3 C cake flour
3 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
4 large eggs, at room temp
1 t vanilla 
2 t coconut extract
1 C coconut milk
Oven to 350. Butter and flour 3 9" cake pans and set them aside. 
1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and then lightly whisk them together to blend. 
2. In your stand mixer (or a separate bowl), cream the butter on its own first until it's fluffy and lighter in color than when you started. 

3. Then, with the mixer running, slowly pour in the sugar and beat 3-5 minutes more, until the mixture is almost white and very pillowy. 

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating them fully and scraping the sides of your bowl after each addition. 

5. Add the vanilla and coconut extracts and beat quickly. 
6. Alternating in 5 separate turns, add the flour and mix fully, then coconut milk, flour, coconut, flour (ending with flour).
7. Pour the batter into your pans, evenly distributing and bake for 18-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool fully before frosting.

Coconut Buttercream Frosting
1 C unsalted (always) butter, at room temp
5 C powdered sugar
1/2 C coconut milk
1-2 t coconut extract
pinch of kosher salt

1 C shredded coconut, for garnish (I used organic, but will definitely use the sugary stuff next time)

1. Beat the butter in a stand mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. 

2. Add the sugar and mix on low until incorporated. 

3. Add coconut milk, extract and salt and beat until light and fluffy again. (Add milk 1 T at a time for smoother consistency, but you do want a sturdy frosting because with 3 layers, you don't want them sliding all over the place. Another solution for sliding cake is to frost, decorate and then refrigerate your cake so the icing sets nice and firmly. Then, let it sit at room temp 30 minutes before serving.)

4. Frost your cake and then sprinkle it with the 1 C coconut. Mmm. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Irish Soda Bread

Ahh, it's the time of the year when we all get together to drink green beverages to celebrate the arrival of a Roman Catholic in Ireland. A Roman Catholic who would teach the Irish about the Catholic religion and basically force the Druids underground, divide Christians and wreak general havoc.

It's true! St. Patrick was Italian and he did convert thousands of Protestants and Druids to the Catholic faith. He was a charmer, that one. Probably funny and handsome. Possibly with lots of dark, Italian hair and gorgeous teeth. Okay, I may possibly have him confused with my handsome husband who happens to have been born on the day we celebrate St. Patrick's impact on the world. If you're wondering what any of this has to do with Irish Soda Bread, frankly, so am I.

Every year in March we start seeing lots of delicious Irish dishes like corned beef and cabbage (sorry, barf) and colcannon (less barf) all over the interwebs. But you know what's always delicious? Irish Soda Bread. While the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread (yes, that's really a thing) would like for us to know that anything besides flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk make it a "tea cake", I beg to differ. Sure, they have history on their side. But I have your taste buds' best interest in mind here, friends. And I have concocted something undeniably delicious, if you like bread.
And who doesn't like bread? Warm, doughy, delicious BREAD. It's the staff of life and all that!

The recipe is simple. The prep is easy. The bread is LOVELY. Make this one. Trust me.



Irish Soda Bread
Serves 16

4 C flour
1/2 C sugar
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1-1/2 t salt

4 T cold unsalted butter, cubed

1-3/4 C cold buttermilk
1 large egg, cold
1 t orange zest

1-1/4 C raisins, currants or other dried fruit
1 T flour

1 t cream or milk
1 T turbinado or muscavado sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set it aside.
3. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, soda, powder, salt) in a stand mixer on low.
4. Add the butter, also on low, until crumbly.
5. Whisk the buttermilk, egg and zest to combine in a bowl. Pour into the dry mixture.
6. Toss the raisins in the 1T flour to coat. Add them to the bread mixture.
7. Turn the bread out onto a floured board and knead 5-10 times or until it has a sturdy-soft-still cold texture. I know, that is not the easy part I promised you. But do your best. It'll turn out even if you get this part wrong.
8. Form the dough into a ball and place it onto your parchment-lined baking sheet.
9. Brush the cream on top of the ball of dough.
10. Sprinkle the sugar as evenly as you can over top.
11. Score the top of the loaf (this means take a knife and cut a shallow cross into the top. This gives the dough room to expand in the oven).
12. Bake 35-40 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped with a spoon.

Let is cool as completely as you can - about 30 minutes to several hours. Slice however you like and serve with butter, jam, clotted cream. Oh, heck, it's a giant scone. Let's make the most of it, Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread be... well, you get the idea.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumbprint Cookies (gf)

Oh my goodness, this has been the very busiest couple of weeks (thanking the powers that be) and there is not a break in sight (I can do it, I can do it, I can do it!). Still, I have a little treat I hope you'll like. I'm cheating a weeeee bit because I posted the recipe for these Peanut Butter Cookies last year but today I've made a little change that makes a huge difference. Adding a dollop of your best quality jam makes these rich and hearty cookies a bit more delicate. Still better with a glass of milk than a cup of tea, these are such a lovely after-school snack. Their lack of flour (read: they're gluten free) is an added bonus and creates a soft inside texture. Matching the sugar to pb ratio, though, gives these little beauties a crunchy exterior that's almost like a thin sugar shell around a dense interior.

The great thing is that a cookie like this is one that takes very little time, uses one bowl and is easy enough to put into your heavy rotation. Oh, and, I may possibly forgive myself eating a few too many of these by telling myself there is protein and healthy fat in there, along with the partially hydrogenated oils and sugar. Hey, I'm working on it.



Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumbprint Cookies
Makes 6 dozen
2 C creamy peanut butter (the bad-for-you kind - Jif, Skippy, et al - with partially hydrogenated oils)
2 C sugar
2 large eggs
2 t vanilla
1 t baking soda

1/3 C good quality jam (I used apricot, raspberry and grape)

1. Preheat your oven to 375
2. Beat the peanut butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and baking soda until mixed
3. Using one tablespoon of dough each, roll into roundish balls
4. Gently press your thumb into each cookie, making a nice dent in the center (you can do this after they're baked, too, to increase the indentation. Just be aware of the heat.)
5. Bake for 10 minutes at 375
6. If making a second indentation, press before the cookies are all the way cool
7. Cool at least one hour
8. Dollop jam into the center of each cookie, about one teaspoon at a time
9. Pour a glass of ice cold milk and ENJOY

Friday, February 27, 2015

Melissa's Chocolate Almond Birthday Cake

I'm really good at birthdays. Like, really good. I remember my friends' birthdays, their kids' birthdays and even some of their parents' and spouses' birthdays. I send gifts, sometimes even thoughtful ones. And I love nothing more than to bake a good birthday cake.

And yet, I was looking at the calendar last week and realized that I had missed my own blogging birthday. My first lemon pound cake post landed here February 17, 2014 and got probably 4 views. To those of you who've been with me from the beginning (Mom and Dad), THANK YOU. To those of you who just found me, THANK YOU, too! Blogging has given me a creative outlet and a way to share something that I love with this little world. It has kept me going during some long, lonely weeks when we were new in San Diego and I was still making friends. It's given me a place to track my life through the goods that I bake. We've met Olive and her mom Leigh. I've talked a lot about Stacy. My dad has made an appearance or two. Family, friends and good times have been shared here. Before this starts sounding like my epilogue, let me tell you about this cake.
THIS CAKE, Melissa would write in all caps. And, she would be right. Melissa from Julia's Book Bag makes this gorgeous chocolate almond cake for herself for her January birthday so I thought I'd make it for mine! Well, my blogging birthday, anyway. (THANK YOU, Melissa. Big hugs!) Random fact about Melissa: she grew up on Maui with my daughter's godmother Tatsinda and the first time I met this fabulous blogger was when she was a Laura-Ashley-wearing (complete with matching headband. Dark hair + creamy-Snow-White skin + ruffles + flower prints = just divine) college freshman. And now she's an attorney blogger photographer kick ass mom. I'm pretty sure Melissa rules Washington state. Ooh, Melissa, you should be Mayor! Or Governor! Or Senator!

Back to the cake. Almond cake is a classic Italian dessert which turned out to be fortuitous for me as I happened to be last minute hostess of family dinner this week. In attendance we had 2 D'Amicos and 5 Stabiles (that's Stah'-bee-lay in the old country) and only one of us (Irish heathen that I am!) married into the Italian bloodline: everyone else created it. Sometimes called Nonna Cake for the Italian grandmothers who must have originated almond cake recipes like this one, this is a dense and different dessert. I added almond and vanilla extracts to the recipe Melissa uses and I'd do it again. It's small-ish size does not reflect its larger-than-life taste. Marzipanian with a dark chocolate twist, this cake is a delicious marriage of deep flavors with a satisfying almond-mealy texture. We served it with ice cream, but I heartily recommend a brandy- or almond-flavored dollop of whipped cream instead.
Any way you slice it, this has been a fantastic, surprising year and I am fortunate beyond measure to share my baking world with you all. Thank you for reading, commenting (when the functionality works) and supporting me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I heart you.

Truly, madly, deeply yours,


Melissa's Chocolate Almond Birthday Cake
6 oz. Ghirardelli Double Chocolate chips chocolate
12 T unsalted butter, at room temp
3/4 C sugar
4 eggs, separated
1/3 C ground almonds or almond flour (Melissa uses this kind of almond flour, so I did, too)
1/3 C all-purpose flour
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t almond extract

4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
3 T butter
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C plus 2 T heavy cream

Make the cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Butter and flour on 9-inch cake pan or spring form pan.
3. Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool.
4. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks and set them in the fridge.
5. Cream the butter with the sugar and then add the egg yolks one by one until thoroughly mixed in, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.
6. Add the extracts and the melted chocolate.
7. Add the almond and all-purpose flours.
8. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the mixture until it all comes together.
9. Pour your batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes until center of cake springs back when touched but still appears moist.
10. Cool the cake for 2 hours or up to overnight before icing it.

Make the icing:
1. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan over low heat, whisking fairly regularly until melted. Set aside until the cake is cooled.
2. When the cake is cool, steadily pour the icing over top of the cake and spread gently, just until the icing flows over the sides of the cake. It should continue to flow down the sides a bit - sort of like lava.

Let the cake set and slice into slivers. Eat slowly and savor. Mmmm. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mousse au Chocolat

Bonjour! C'est moi, Allison. Et, je parle le Francais aujourd hui. Kidding!

It's Valentine's Week and everything is all chocolate and red and French in the world and I may be a wee bit over-caffeinated overexcited.

J'adore Valentine's Day. Not because my husband and I celebrate it, per se, but because the red & pink, the chocolate, the HEARTS! It all makes me feel so light and happy. Ooh, what else is light and happy? Chocolate Mousse!

This dessert was all the rage in the late 1970s and early 80s. What happened? It's so lovely and light, so rich and distinct. I'm not sure how mousse became a cake filling and not a stand alone dessert. My mom made it for dinner parties when I was younger and I recall how decadent and exciting it was as she spooned it into champagne glasses or poured it into our casserole dish. Mom always made mousse the proper way - with eggs - but I went another direction. Classic chocolate mousse is made with frothy, gorgeous egg whites and sometimes cooked yolks. More often than not, the eggs are not cooked at all (oh! There's my answer! Now that the US is all litiginous, we don't serve raw eggs.). Anyhoo, I decided to make a truly creamy version and here it is.

Certainly you can use this as a filling (chill for 30 minutes before spreading on cake layers and then chill after you frost your crumb layer to help the cake set up), but it is so nice all on its own. A little bourbon whipped cream (recipe below) topped it nicely, but so could crushed chocolate wafers or chocolate curls. Or raspberries. Or cherries. Oh, I could wax on and on. Just make this one, you Fancy Lovelies!

Happy Valentine's Day!



Chocolate Mousse
Serves 6
2 C heavy whipping cream
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small bits
1 t vanilla
1/4 t sea salt

Whip 1-1/2 cups of the cream until just holding the form of your beaters - it should be a bit soft and pillowy. Set aside.

Bring 1/2 cup of the cream just to a boil on the stove top and immediately whisk in the bittersweet chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and sea salt. Let sit about 5 minutes to cool.

Working with your mixer on low, add the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream a little bit at a time (in 3 scoops). Divide your mousse into 6 cups or champagne flutes (you can use a piping bag) and refrigerate about an hour before serving. The longer the mousse is in the fridge, the firmer it will be on your spoon. Dollop a tiny spoonful of bourbon whipped cream and enjoy!

Bourbon Whipped Cream
1 C heavy whipping cream
2 T good-quality bourbon (I used Russell's reserve)
1-1/2 T brown sugar
1 t vanilla

Beat the cream, bourbon, sugar and vanilla at high speed until soft peaks form in the cream. Chill or serve immediately.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Molten Chocolate Cake (gf)

While some of us think of  St. Valentine's Day as a Hallmark Holiday, it's not actually devoid of history. Some records count eleven different saints named Valentine: one of them a Palestinian woman. It seems the saint we celebrate with cupids and arrows was put to death on 14th February, 3rd Century AD for marrying Christians to each other and for causing the general displeasure of then-emperor Claudius by advocating for the rights of Christians within the Roman Empire.

I can't be sure, but I don't think that when St. Valentine was saving the Christians, he planned on having a chocolate-and-roses holiday celebrated in his honor. Maybe, though, he would have approved of the sentiment behind it all, that of spreading love. In my humble experience, roses are nice but chocolate IS love.

As it turns out, my very special heart-friend Leigh was in town last weekend and as a natural expression of my affection, I had planned to bake for her and her beautiful family who flew all the way from Virginia to see us. Before their arrival, I had visions of morning coffee cakes and afternoon cookies. The thing about baking is that it takes time. And time is a precious commodity when you're spending time with someone you only see once a year. You know?

One day during their visit we were all hanging out at our local beach park when I gently excused myself and made my way home. Thinking of Leigh, Jeremy, Olive and Delilah, I melted, whipped and folded furiously (well, I slowed down for the folding) to get a gorgeous chocolate batter for molten chocolate cake mixed for a quick bake after dinner. After we ate, Leigh and I poured the batter into buttered-and-sugared ramekins and baked away. Actually, I did all that while she peered over my shoulder asking what I was doing each step of the way. This is how much I love Leigh: anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I allow NO ONE in the baking lab when I'm in there. I mean, no one. But, somehow, for Leigh, it wasn't even an exception. It was fun. Sort of. (Hee, hee.)

Back to the cakes, which turned out light in texture and rich in flavor. The cake recipe I got from Zoe Bakes, who created it as a flour-free recipe for Passover. The molten centers came from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes. Both are easier than I thought they'd be to make and both came out perfectly, despite my rushing through.

These were so good, so filled with love, that everyone practically licked their bowls clean. What an incredible feeling it was to share not only what I love to do, but to have everyone love it as I did. Warm fuzzies all around!



P.S. Leigh, come back!!!!!!!!! I can't wait another year. Wah, wah, wah!

Molten Chocolate Cake
Yield: 9 servings
10 oz. 60% Ghirardelli double chocolate chips
1/4 C cocoa, plus more for garnishing cakes, if desired
10 T unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering ramekins
1/4 t salt
6 large egg whites
1/4 cup sugar, plus extra for dusting ramekins
9 pure chocolate truffles, recipe follows

For the cakes:
1. Make the truffles and set aside (see recipe at the end of this post).
2. Butter 9 4-oz. ramekins and then coat with sugar. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in the center of the oven.

4. Place the chocolate in a double boiler or glass bowl over a pan water. Once the water is simmering, turn off the heat and allow the chocolate to melt.

5. Whisk in the cocoa powder, butter and salt until completely smooth.

6. In a stand mixer or separate bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Reduce the speed and gradually add the sugar. Once it is all added turn the speed to medium-high and whip to medium-soft peaks.

7. Mix 1/3 of the whites into the chocolate to loosen it up and then fold in another 1/3 of the whites. Repeat with the last of the whites.

8. Spoon the batter evenly among the prepared ramekins. (I
t should go about 1/2 way up the sides.)
9. Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake the cakes for about 8 minutes. The cake should peel away from the sides of the ramekins and look fairly solid to the eye, but jiggle in the center a bit.
10. Remove from the oven and let the cake sit for about 3 minutes before inverting onto a plate.
11. Dust with cocoa, if desired. As always, I recommend a scoop of Vanilla Haagen Dazs. Just sayin'.

Chocolate Truffles
From Rose Levy Beranbaum's Molten Chocolate Souffle and Lava Cakes Recipe
2 oz. dark chocolate
1/4 C plus 2 T heavy cream

For the truffles:
1. Melt the chocolate until just melted. Set aside. 
2. Heat the cream on the stove top until just before it boils.
3. Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk together. Let sit at room temp for about 4 hours or put into the fridge for an hour or so to congeal.