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Chocolate soufflé cakes

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February 6, 2008

Serves 4

Make these cakes up to one day ahead. Store them, tightly covered, at room temperature and pop them into a 350-degree oven to warm for a few minutes.

Butter (for the cups)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 1/2 ounces Valrhona Manjari (64 percent) or other dark, bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons sugar
Scant 1/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt

1. Set the oven at 275 degrees. Butter four 6-ounce ramekins.

2. In a heatproof bowl set over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water, place the butter and chocolate. Stir often until the mixture is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the water. Wipe the bottom. Let the mixture cool slightly.

3. In an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating just until the whites are glossy and soft, not stiff. (When you tilt the beaters, the whites should curl downward.)

4. In a small bowl, whisk the yolks with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and salt. Slowly whisk the yolk mixture into the chocolate. Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture in 3 additions.

5. Divide the batter among the cups and set them on a baking sheet. Bake for 28 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through baking, or until the cakes are set, but still feel soft, and have puffed above the rims. Cool for 2 minutes and then run a dull knife around the inside of each ramekin. Cool the cakes for about 15 minutes, then invert them onto plates. - Adapted from Lumiere restaurant

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