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.)
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.
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!