Love (and Chocolate) Is All You Need

There is not much that I go weak in the knees for, but when I read about the baked hot chocolate in the Off Duty section of Saturday's Wall Street Journal, I melted. I knew the instant my eyes grazed the page, read the headline and saw the picture that I would have to make this.

Four simple ingredients. Decadent chocolate. Butter. Eggs. And just a touch of sugar. The recipes professes "three layers of differing textures: The top layer is slightly crisp; the middle, a warm, silken pudding; and, at the bottom, you'll find the most unctuous hot chocolate imaginable."

With both the Super Bowl--a national holiday of gluttony--and Valentine's Day fast approaching, these are all the reasons I need to go for it. Couple that with the health benefits of chocolate, and I am done. Off to the kitchen I go...

At first bite, you'd never know how quick and easy this recipe is to put together. If you need to let someone you know just how much you love them or want to impress someone you may want to love, this is all you need to do.

Just make it before Valentine's Day to seal the deal.

Buen provecho!

Baked Hot Chocolate
The Cowgirl Gourmet credits Heidi Friedlander (now she is Heidi Robb) for this recipe. When she was a pastry chef at Cleveland's very popular Moxie restaurant, Heidi contributed this to Scharfenn Berger's Essence of Chocolate cookbook

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There are three words to describe this recipe--quick, easy and unbelievable! The chocolate cooks and becomes three distinctive layers--a slightly crisp top, a pudding-like middle and a thick, rich and creamy chocolate on the bottom. You can add a dollop of whipped cream or even a quenelle of vanilla ice cream for an even more decadent dessert. But it's equally fantabulous just as it is.

Makes 4 servings

9 ounces high-quality semisweet chocolate, either chips or finely chopped
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 large farm fresh eggs from happy chickens
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange four 1-cup ovenproof coffee cups, 8-ounce ramekins or the like in a baking dish or roasting pan.

Melt chocolate and butter together in a double boiler set over barely simmering water. Whisk occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, fill a soup pot or a tea kettle with water and place over high heat until almost boiling or the tea pot whistles.

Stir eggs and sugar together in a mixing bowl, then set over simmering water. Stir constantly until mixture is warm to the touch--about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Beat egg mixture with an electric beater until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.

Gently fold the egg mixture into with the chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined.

Spoon batter into baking dishes. Add enough very hot water to baking pan so the water comes halfway up the sides of the dishes or cups.

Bake until the tops lose their glossy finish, about 15-20 minutes, or a little more if dishes are larger. Carefully remove cups or dishes from pan.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a generous dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Puddings may be refrigerated for up to a day. To reheat, bring them to room temperature and them set in a 350-degree oven until warm, about 5 minutes.
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