LITTLE FRENCH FUDGE CAKES

LITTLE FRENCH FUDGE CAKES

From The Splendid Table's ® How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories, and Opinions from Public Radio's Award-Winning Food Show by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2008). Copyright © 2008 by American Public Media. Photographs by Mette Nielsen/Tony Kubat Photography. All rights reserved.

Makes 6 cupcakes, and doubles easily

15 minutes prep time; 20 minutes oven time

Wrapped, the cakes keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days

If you can melt chocolate and stir, you can make these cakes, and no commercial mix has chocolate as good as this. Quality chocolate is like breeding: it always shines through. Gooey chocolate pockets stud the cakes, while the cake itself is nearly as dense as fudge.

There is a real bittersweet edge here. For the kids add another 3 tablespoons of sugar. For yourself, keep the adult attitude; put the young ones to bed, light the candles, and pour two glasses of port.

You could turn this recipe into a cake by baking it in a 9-inch springform pan lined with parchment. Increase the cooking time to about 35 minutes.

Cook to Cook: The pan you choose will change the baking time of this and other recipes. Here, the dark pan called for gives you fudge cakes in 16 to 18 minutes; shiny pans lengthen the baking time by a few minutes more. We use a dark (not black) nonstick metal pan for this recipe.

One 3.5- or 4-ounce bittersweet chocolate bar (Lindt Excellence 70%, Valrhona 71%, Scharffen Berger 70%, or Ghirardelli 70% Extra bittersweet, in order of our preference), broken up
1-1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken up
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk (for a double recipe, use 5 eggs)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, organic preferred (measured by dipping and leveling)
Half of a 3.5- to 4-ounce bittersweet chocolate bar, broken into bite-sized pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a dark metal 6-cup cupcake tin.

2. Combine the broken-up bittersweet and unsweetened chocolates with the butter in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl. Melt them for 2 to 3 minutes at medium-low power. Check by stirring, as chocolate holds its shape when microwaved. Or melt it in a heatproof bowl over simmering water.

3. In a medium to large bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, vanilla, eggs and yolk, sugar, and salt until creamy. Stir in the flour to blend thoroughly. Then stir in the chocolate/butter mixture until smooth. Finally, blend in the bite-sized pieces of chocolate. Pour the batter into the cupcake pan, filling each three-quarters full.

4. Bake the cupcakes for 18 minutes. Insert a knife into the center of a cupcake. It should come out with some streaks of thick batter. If you have any doubt about doneness, press the top of a cupcake to see if it is nearly firm. Remove them from the oven. Cool the cupcakes in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes to serve warm, or for 20 minutes to serve at room temperature.

For a beautiful mate to those cupcakes, try a glass of Graham's Douro Valley, "Six Grapes" Porto NV ($22) from Portugal.

Wine writer Robert Whitley of Wine Review Online says, "With Valentine's Day just around the corner, wine enthusiasts should be locking in on that special bottle for someone special. Without going out on too much of a limb, I believe it's safe to say Graham's Six Grapes is the closest any vintage character ruby Port comes to the real deal -- which would be vintage Port -- at three to five times the price. Most vintage-character Ports have plenty of aroma and flavor, but lack the structure of vintage Port. Graham's Six Grapes is the exception, delivering a richly layered, complex red dessert wine with satisfying grip (from the smooth tannins) on the back end. The Six Grapes I sampled recently offered lovely plum and cherry aromas, hints of spice and the essence of mocha -- perfect to accompany Valentine's chocolates!" 90 Points.