Saturday, September 1, 2012

Go ahead, eat the WHOLE THING! Single-Serving Desserts, Part 1: Flourless Chocolate Ramekins

In this blog, I have talked a few times about the balancing act between hedonism and self-care, between indulging the senses and respecting the body's limitations.  There is a fine line separating enjoyment from excess, and one of my aims in life is to stay more on this side of it than the other.

From time to time, I will have a hankering for a rich and decadent dessert, which I most frequently satisfy by diving into a Manhattan pastry shop.  I like to tell myself that I could do it when I go out to dinner at a fancy restaurant, but the reality is that, by the time dessert would have rolled around during a dinner outing, I no longer have any desire for any food.  What can I say?  I'm in love with meat.

When cooking at home, I am disinclined to make desserts because most recipes serve 8-12.  Even though I am a hedonist through and through, I also have limited capacity, not only in terms of metabolizing sweets, but in how long I can remain interested in the same item.  The reality is that, if I make a large cake, I will have one piece, and most of it will end up at the office, because otherwise, it would end up in the trash.

So, I've looked into recipes for single-serving desserts.  They aren't easy to find.  Many times, they are large recipes that someone has poured into single-serving containers or muffin tins, but which are still written in terms of 8+ servings, and aren't easily scalable, especially in terms of baking times.

My friend Charles shared with me an awesome flourless chocolate torte recipe, which I made twice in the full-size version.  Both times, I ended up giving away 3/4 of it because it was going neglected at home after the initial rush of delight.  Fortunately, the ingredients in this simple recipe (eggs, butter, chocolate) are in multiples of 8.  No racking my brain to figure out how to divide 5 eggs to make 8 single servings...

I divided the whole recipe by 8 and came up with a basic formula for a rich, indulgent treat that allows me the luxury of finishing the whole thing without exceeding my body's capacity.

For each serving, you will need:

1 large egg at room temperature

2 oz high quality chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)

1 oz (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter 

Vanilla extract (optional) 

Preheat oven to 300º Fahrenheit.  I used a toaster oven.

Using the whisk attachment in a hand blender, beat the egg(s) until foamy and doubled in volume.

In a double boiler over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter until it is incorporated.  I added a sprinkling of sea salt to bring out the chocolate flavor.

Slowly add the beaten egg to the chocolate, one spoonful at a time.

Pour into single-serving ramekin(s) 

Pour boiling water into the bottom of a baking dish, and lay your ramekin(s) in the water bath:

Bake at 300º for 15 minutes.  They will look a bit soft in the center when you remove them from the oven.  This is normal.  The batter will set silky smooth when you refrigerate it.

Refrigerate for several hours, or overnight.

Top with whipped cream and enjoy!

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