Fudge Cakes

This sensual dessert—adapted from Nicole Krasinski, chef-owner of State Bird Provisions in San Francisco—offers intriguing flavor combinations and textures that range from cloudlike to crunchy. Krasinski tops her cakes with a tasty fennel-hazelnut granola; for simplicity, we’ve used toasted hazelnuts. For her recipe, see sunset.com/granolarecipe.

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Ingredients

  • 6 large prunes, cut into 1/4-in. dice
  • 1/4 cup cognac (or other brandy)
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1 heaping tsp. jasmine pearl tea
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70%-74% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • About 3 tbsp. store-bought or homemade plum jam, for topping
  • 3 tablespoons toasted salted hazelnuts or almonds, coarsely chopped

How to Make It

Step 1

Put the prunes in a small bowl and pour in cognac. Cover and chill overnight.

Step 2

In a microwave-safe small bowl or glass measuring cup, microwave cream until barely simmering (do not let boil). Add tea, cover, and let steep off the heat 30 minutes. Strain into a bowl and set bowl in a larger one of ice and cold water. Once cool, cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Step 3

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat butter with ginger just until butter melts. Cover and let steep 30 minutes.

Step 4

Strain ginger butter into a bowl, pressing ginger against strainer. Discard ginger. Put 6 tbsp. ginger butter and the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. In 10-second bursts, microwave until two-thirds melted. Whisk to melt fully.

Step 5

Preheat oven to 325°. In a separate bowl, whisk sugar, eggs, and salt together. Strain prunes (save cognac for cocktails).

Step 6

Whisk chocolate-butter mixture into eggs and sugar. Stir in prunes.

Step 7

Spoon batter into four 4-oz. ramekins or coffee cups, dividing evenly, then transfer to a small roasting pan. Carefully pour enough hot water into pan to come half­way up sides of ramekins. Cover pan tightly with foil.

Step 8

Bake cakes until just set (when you gently touch center of a cake, your finger should come away clean), about 35 minutes. Let cakes cool on a rack until barely warm. Meanwhile, whip jasmine cream into soft peaks.

Step 9

To serve, spoon some plum jam onto cakes and top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of toasted hazelnuts.

Step 10

Make ahead: Jasmine cream through step 2, up to 1 day, chilled. Cakes, up to 2 days, cooled and then chilled. Let them come to room temperature before serving.

Step 11

Wine pairing: A moderately sweet fortified red like Roxo 2011 Método Portugués «Ruby Tradicional» (Paso Robles; $48). —Sara Schneider

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