The amounts of sugar, butter and salt in the cake batter might seem excessive, but I assure you the flavor and texture turn out just right. I once made these gluten-free, by subbing sweet rice flour for the all-purpose, with excellent results. I've always used dutch-processed cocoa powder for these cakes, and don't know whether they'd work with the 'natural' stuff; Valrhona and Guittard both make good dutch-processed cocoa.
Be sure the melted butter is still very warm when you add it to the cake batter; otherwise, the cakes won't develop the prettily glazed cracks on top (they'll still taste great, though!).
Make the ice cream base the day before you plan to serve the cakes, as it benefits from resting in the fridge overnight, and needs to firm up for a few hours after spinning. (A wise woman once said, 'You can't hurry ice cream, no, you just have to wait'... or something like that.) If you lack an ice cream maker, or didn't plan ahead, don't fret; make a batch of crème anglaise
and grind 1/4 teaspoon or so of black pepper into the cooled custard. All the components can be made in advance; the cakes keep well for several days, and reheat beautifully in the oven or toaster oven. Should you be so lucky as to have 3" ring molds, use them to bake 8 cakes, omitting the cocoa-dusting step.
Warm Chocolate Cakes
: (Adapted from the Bouchon Bakery
Vanilla-Black Pepper Ice Cream
: (Adapted from A Homemade Life
The easiest way to measure the black pepper is to grind it onto a piece of creased paper, then use the paper to slide the pepper into the measuring spoons. Save the egg whites for making brown-butter financier cakes
. They will keep in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for several months.
Blood Orange Reduction
: Use any leftover syrup to make blood orange sodas; just stir a bit of syrup into a glass of sparkling water (or prosecco!).
Nutritional values are based on one of ten servings.