How sweet it is…


Bouchon — just the name itself evokes cuteness. But what exactly is it? I bought Thomas Keller’s book Bouchon expressedly for his recipe of one of my all-time-favorite food – duck confit.  However, browsing through this massive tome and salivating over each perfectly photographed dish, I came upon a cute little chocolate creation called bouchon. Bouchon apparently is a French word for stopper, as in bottle stopper. Yes, a cork. And indeed, made in timbale molds, this chocolate wonder bakes up to resemble one.

Well, that was six-months-of-procrastinating ago and now I finally got the chance to come around to this recipe. It called for 55% Valrhona Equitoriale chocolate chunks and I am very miserly about using my stash of this premium chocolate. This particular percentage of Valrhona is hard to find in Richmond, unlike its 70% sibling the Guanaja, which I can just walk up to my favorite chocolate store and buy. (I found out recently that they can special-order most kinds of chocolate for me so I guess that solves that.)

With a “Keller recipe” (you know like “killer recipe”, pardon my goofiness today), there can be no compromise. How can you simply not use the best! The instructions are pretty short and straightforward. Scanning through the ingredient list and the procedure, it closely resembles chocolate volcano cakes sans the chunks of chocolate. Ooh, I can see this baking into a real decadent cake – 24 tablespoons of butter and all! I did feel a bit hesitant about using the  amount of sugar called for in the recipe but my motto always is —  especially for baking and pastry where measurements are important —  to recreate the recipe verbatim and then figure out what can be adjusted for subsequent batches. 

Ouf! This recipe looks easy enough to knock out in an hour. No melting chocolate involved, just whipping up ingredients in the stand mixer and it’s done. (And with most recipes where over-confidence is a plague – this is no exception.)

Chocolate Bouchons

            adapted from “Bouchon”  by Thomas Keller

Butter and flour for timbale molds

3 ½ ounces (3/4 cup) all purpose flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp kosher salt

3 large eggs

1 ½ cup plus 3 tbs granulated sugar

½ tsp pure vanilla extract

24 tbs unsalted butter, melted and just slightly warm

6 oz semisweet chocolate, such as Valrhona Equitoriale (55%) chopped into pieces the

        size of chocolate chips

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Special equipment : 2-ounce Fleximolds or 3-ounce timbale molds

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour twelve timbale molds. Set aside.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl; set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thick and very pale in color. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then one-third of the butter, and continue alternating with the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. (The batter can get refrigerated for up to a day.)

Put the timbale molds on a baking sheet. Place the batter in a pastry bag, without a tip, or with a large plain tip, and fill each mold about two-thirds full. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When the tops look shiny and set (like a brownie), test one cake with a wooden skewer or toothpick; It should come out clean but not dry (there may be some melted chocolate from the chopped chocolate).

Transfer the bouchons to a cooling rack. After a couple of minutes, invert the timbale molds and let cool upside down in the molds; then lift off the molds. (The bouchons are best eaten the day they are baked.)

To serve: Invert the bouchons and dust them with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with ice cream , if desired.

Cooking Notes:

There’s really nothing to it …that is… if you read the instructions correctly and use the paddle instead of the whisk of the mixer in the first place. So after whisking the eggs and sugar for like two minutes I paused and read the recipe again. Grumbling, I pulled off the whisk and attached the paddle. Mise en place, after all, includes the equipment to be used. Though this did no harm to the resulting batter, I just hate to wash something extra.

Chopping the chocolate chunks also must be done with the piping of the batter in mind. I had chunks of it clog up the first hole I cut although I did have the sense not to force the batter through or I would have most likely ripped the pastry bag and ended up with chocolate splattered everywhere. I shall not have the “hungry” hubby find chocolate on the cabinet doors this time. ( Hah! One point of common sense awarded to the Test Kitchen.) So I simply cut the hole larger in the disposable pastry bag and the rest flowed happily through.

Warning bells did ring when I saw a bunch of chunks congregate unevenly in one of the timbale molds. I should have fished out those extra chocolate chunks and incorporated it in the other molds. (Uhh… one point of common sense deducted from the Test Kitchen L )


Witness the result of ignoring one’s intuition in the second picture where the poor bouchon cannot even stand on its own but rather dissolved into a puddle of chocolate goo.  It had chunks of chocolate as the base and not enough batter to provide structure to hold it up. (Okay, I’ll admit I did not read the last part about cooling it upside down either. Turns out the bouchon is pretty wobbly at the bottom.) Remember it’s not suppose to look like a lava cake with a gaping molten hole but is suppose to have just little delights of melted chocolate here and there.

Lessons learned: Read a recipe once. After which, read it again. Daydreaming of the end result is permitted but do not lose focus of the task at hand. Those simple recipes are sneakier than you think so read it a third time.

All in all, save for that one casualty, the other bouchons stood up pretty well. They were a delight to eat because every bite was pure chocolate euphoria. It had a surprisingly crispy crust and a soft crumb interspersed with little spots of melted chocolate. The cake is very rich and a tad too sweet for MY taste so I would cut the sugar by 25 % next time. 

This will definitely join the ranks of those chocolate gems that you can prepare ahead of time and dazzle your guests with!

29 thoughts on “How sweet it is…

  1. Hi Veron!
    What great bouchons you've baked here. If I could, I would've eaten the photos!!
    Could we use ramekins if there's no timbale molds at home?

  2. His book is a drooling read is it not!
    Keller = Killer there may be a bite of truth there, still when I read (as you say re-read) and follow, his recipes produce killer results.

    Beautiful Bouchons!!

  3. Veron, even that chocolate goo looks pretty darned good to me! As someone who doesn't really bake, but really likes chocolate, I am in awe — and now I'm kind of hungry, too…..

  4. Veron, looks absolutely wonderful, but I must confess I've never seen a timbale mold, and wouldn't recognize it! From what you write, I gather they are small, if not bite sized?

  5. Veron, I had a laugh with your post – I totally relate to it!
    I sometimes read the recipe too fast and then, in the middle of the process, something like "refrigerate dough for 1/2 day" shows up and I want to die. 😉

    Your bouchons look delicious and I'm sure they are worth trying!

  6. Hi Valentina – I used ramekins for the extra batter but it will sink in the middle. It'll taste just as good though.
    Tanna – I really love keller's books, I just could kick myself for not cooking from it more.
    Brilynn – I agree with you wholeheartedly!
    Hi Lydia – actually the one with the goo was the first one I ate and it was darn tasty!
    Hi T.W. – yes, timbale molds are small but not quite bite-size. They are a bit bigger than shot-glasses in size but made of metal.
    Patricia – Glad I'm not the only one doing the speed reading of recipes. That totally happened to me "refrigerate dough for 1/2 day" he..he..(although it was not funny then)

  7. I do love me some Keller.
    Yes, reading the recipe all the way through is really, really important. When I first started out, I ruined many a good recipe that way.

  8. I love the idea of dissolving into a puddle of chocolate goo! I hate chipping blocks of chocolate and Vahlrona is particularly chunky as well compared to say Lindt or Green and Blacks. They look divine!

  9. thanks cheryl! it seems the number of recipe-reading slackers is growing.
    Thanks gilly!
    Peabody – he -he…I guess live and learn , eh?
    thanks Kristen!
    Thanks Elle – the uneven one did look very appetizing even when it looked all smooshed .
    Definitely Helen! It's always easier after the first time going through a recipe. Let's just hope the lesson stuck!
    Lucky you, Ivonne. I'm hoping next time I go to Napa and can pay a visit to bouchon.
    Thanks Freya!I know what you mean. Everytime a recipe calls for craggy chunks of chocolate , I think twice. But since this bouchon looked so cute I decided to make the effort.

  10. Definitely a killer recipe! Veron, thanks all the notes and tips, I'll look for the mould this weekend! Your bouchon are really beautiful!

  11. I am completely dazzled already just by looking at the beautiful photo and reading your notes. Oh, yum! I'm hypnotised. I desperately want to make this but where do i get Valrhona Equitoriale in Jersey…?

    I best go. I have some researching to do… 🙂

  12. I have to say I'm a sucker for anything by Thomas Keller. He could serve a mini coneful of dog crap at the French Laundry and I would eat it.

  13. This is like the molten lava cake I've had recently and my, THAT was really really disappointing. Just from the look of yours, it's SO MUCH better than the one I've had. Killer!

  14. I am fortunate enough to live in NY and be able to get these amazing desserts at Bouchon Bakery directly. However that is not enough. I want to make them myself. I have the recipe and the confidence to make them, but I am lacking one key piece…The molds. Any ideas on where I can purchase them? I have only looked online and have not had much success. The only ones I have seen looked as if they were gigantic pails. What to do????

  15. This is an older post but, as I have just been introduced to your lovely blog, I feel I must comment on this blog. I am a humongous fan of Mr. Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, I recently bought a box of 24 of his macaron’s on a day trip to NYC, at his Columbus Circle store, and they were gone by the ride home (I simply couldn’t help myself!). I have made replica’s of his macaron’s but sadly they do not hold up to Mr. Keller’s but, you have opened me up to all of his other deserts, I cannot wait to try and make this beautiful bouchon! Thanks Veron!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s