Warm Chocolate Cakes with Toasted Marshmallow Meringue
cake adapted from Jean-Georges Vongerichte

makes at least 8 cakes -  the recipe can be easily halved

1 cup butter, plus more to butter the molds
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 eggs
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
8 teaspoons flour
unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting (sift it if it's lumpy)

Set a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (You just need a couple of inches of water - do not let the bowl touch the water). Add the butter and chocolate and heat them gently together until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Remove from the heat and whisk until chocolate is smooth.

While that's heating, beat together the eggs, yolks, and sugar with a whisk or electric beater until light and thick, several minutes.

Pour in the egg mixture into the chocolate/butter mixture and then quickly beat in the flour, just until combined.

Butter and lightly dust with some of the cocoa powder eight 4-ounce molds, custard cups, or ramekins. Divide the batter among the molds. (At this point you can refrigerate the desserts until you are ready to eat, for up to several hours; bring them back to room temperature before baking.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Bake the molds on a tray for 10 minutes; the center will still be quite soft, but the sides will be set.   Remove from oven.  Set the oven to "broil".

Pipe the Marshmallow Meringue on the top of each cake.  (If you don't have a pastry bag and tip, just use a gallon size zip lock with a corner cut off). Return to oven and broil just until tops are toasted - watch carefully so they don't burn.

Optional: Skip the marshmallow and invert each mold onto a plate and let sit for about 10 seconds. Unmold by lifting up one corner of the mold; the cake will fall out onto the plate. Serve immediately.

Marshmallow Meringue
(You will need a cooking thermometer for this recipe)
Note: this recipe contains raw eggs

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
a large pinch of cream of tartar

Combine egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a heat-proof mixer bowl. Place bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until sugar is dissolved and whites are warmed to 145 degrees F. about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and place bowl on electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment.  Beat starting on low speed and then increasing to high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes.  Use immediately.

The Italian Dish