It's time for another Role Reversal post, courtesy of Moriah of Where I'm Cooking From. Despite the pedigree of the recipe's creator and the fact that her other recipe went over so fantastically well over here, I had high hopes for this dessert, alluringly named Caramel Coulant. Unfortunately, well, I'll just let you keep reading:
"Last weekend I dusted off my email archives, bought cream and flour, and set to work making Caramel Coulant as written. I read the instructions first, then followed all steps to the letter. I'm actually proud of myself for doing that, because I have a habit of always tweaking a recipe before I've made a control group.
It's a nice change of pace to follow exact instructions and see
what happens rather than my usual method of cooking by instinct (ie,
the seat of my pants). I would not, however, make this recipe again. It sounded for all the world like the tawny cousin of the molten
chocolate cake - a delicate egg-risen puff with liquid gold oozing from
the center. But it turned out to be just an under-baked cupcake.
The half-baked cake concept works flawlessly in almost all molten chocolate cake recipes, but without the flavor-power of chocolate, the flowing center of batter ends up tasting like cake batter. That can be good in small doses, but when there's about an ounce of liquid batter in each 4 ounce cakelet, it's too much. Of course, this may appeal to some people -- I understand that. But I'm very particular about being able to taste raw egg and flour, even in custards, so this grossed me out a little bit. I baked them according to the recipe, tasted one and took some photos, then put them back into a 300 degree oven until the centers were firm. My roommates quite enjoyed the fully-baked cakes and they saved me the trouble of having to eat more than one, though I entertained thoughts of spreading slices of dense cake toast with marmalade.
On the upper-most-upside, the 3/4-cup of leftover caramel sauce made an excellent ice cream when mixed with 3 cups of milk and run through the ice cream maker.
Overall, I'm glad I tried this recipe, at least for the experience. It was pretty obvious to me that it was scaled down from a huge restaurant-sized batch (it's from Nicole Kaplan, during her reign as pastry chef at Eleven Madison Park), because there was so much extra caramel sauce and no instruction on how to use it, and it produced a slightly-awkward number (5) of cakes. When quadrupled, it would use all the sauce and make a nice even 20 cakes. I didn't try it with salted caramel ice cream as suggested, but I don't think that would make a difference in my enjoyment of the dessert. What I should do is check out the dessert in its native environment at Eleven Madison Park, if it's still on the menu. You know, for research."
For the caramel sauce:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup cream
1 ½ tablespoons butter
¼ cup milk
For the coulant:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Pinch of fleur de sel
¼ cup plus 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
2/3 cup cake flour.
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the sugar and ¼ cup water in a pot. Do not stir. Cook over medium-high heat to a dark caramel, swirling as it begins to brown to distribute the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and deglaze with the cream, standing back to avoid bubbling caramel. Add the butter and milk. (It will bubble again.) Stir until well incorporated. Let cool. (The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated.)
2. Spray 5, 4-ounce ramekins with cooking spray; cover the inside of the ramekin with sugar and remove excess. Place on a sheet pan.
3. Make the coulant by warming 1/3 cup caramel sauce in a medium saucepan; then stir in the butter and fleur de sel. Off the heat, stir in the sugar, then flour, then eggs, adding the next just after the prior has been combined. Pour the mixture two-thirds of the way into each ramekin. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, turning the sheet pan halfway through, until the shell is cakelike but the center is flowing. Let cool. When ready to serve, rewarm the cakes in the ramekins for a few minutes. Place a serving plate over the ramekin and flip it to release the coulant. Serve with salted caramel ice cream.