Sunday, March 16, 2014

"Roy's Feasts from Hawaii" - Roy's (Yamaguchi)Chocolate Souffle (a/k/a "Molten Lava Cake")

Date I made this recipe:  March 7, 2014 – to belatedly celebrate my husband's birthday

Roy's Feasts from Hawaii by Roy Yamaguchi and John Harrisson
Published by:  10 Ten Speed Press
ISBN:  0-89815-637-8
Recipe – Roy's Chocolate Soufflé (a/k/a "Molten Lava Cake") – p. 205

People, I find it highly amusing that one of the best things on the menu at Roy's (Yamaguchi) restaurants in Hawaii (several locations) is not fresh Hawaiian fish, is not Hawaiian classics like roast pig or even poi, it's a chocolate soufflé cake.  Yup.  Chocolate.  And yet I cannot even begin to tell you how good it is; think "celestial!"

A few months ago, I mentioned Roy Yamaguchi when I blogged about a cookbook about Hawaiian rising star chefs.  Since that cookbook was published, Roy has been slowly and steadily building a world-class reputation and has increased his restaurant empire to include operations in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada and Texas.  (I must say that Illinois and Maryland don't make much sense to me but who am I to quibble?).  All of my dining experiences have been in Hawaii and were it not so far and had we not just been there (in October), we might have considered another trip just so that my husband could have that chocolate soufflé cake for his birthday.  Instead, yours truly was charged with making this cake and while it wasn't hard, it was a little daunting because what if I failed?  It's not like I could fly Roy over here to fix it, now could I?  (Although maybe he could have talked me down off the ledge – not that I was on it – by phone.  Should have thought about that!)  But hubby wanted this cake and so I had to soldier on.

As the nickname suggests, this cake has a "molten lava" center of warm, gooey chocolate and the menu warns you right off the bat that this masterpiece takes time.  In my case, I would have made it for my husband's birthday on March 1st (instead of March 7th) but for one little item that I missed in the recipe:  "Place [mixture] in the refrigerator overnight."  Damn, I hate it when that happens (and if you ask me, and you didn't, the publisher should have bolded that instruction or at least made it 20 feet tall so I couldn't fail to see it)!

The other thing I learned – and who could know this ahead of time – is that if you want that molten lava center, you are going to have to invest in the metal rings called for in the instructions.  Why?  Because what you do is to place these rings on parchment paper that lines a baking sheet.  This provides a more direct heat source (batter on parchment to baking sheet to oven heat) than what I did which was to use individual ramekins that does not allow for direct heat - batter into ramekins, ramekins onto baking sheets equals more layers; the chocolate melted but did not become molten and wasn't this the whole point of the recipe?  It was.  The recipe notes that you can also bake the whole recipe in a small casserole dish but again, I'm thinking that the casserole dish impedes the lava-making process.  Your call.

So to summarize:  we used ramekins instead of rings and got a very moist center but not the molten lava flow we were expecting.  Taste-wise, they were awesome so it's just a matter of whether you can swallow (hahahaha) your disappointment at missing out on the chocolate lava flow or not.

By the way, on this last trip to Hawaii in October, the federal government was shut down and that meant we could not take a trip to Volcanoes National Park.  I'm taking this as a sign for how our soufflé would turn out!

Now, should chocolate not be your thing (inconceivable!), you cannot go wrong with this cookbook as it provides a wonderful assortment of appetizers, soups, salads, pastas and pizzas and so on and so forth so that you get the complete island experience without leaving home.  On our first trip to Roy's, we ordered appetizers, entrees and then of course saved room for the soufflé.  On this last trip to Hawaii (the Big Island), we were so full from an absolutely fabulous and ridiculously large pulled pork sandwich at lunch that we ordered appetizers at Roy's and then talked to a guy next to us at the bar who was tucking in the short ribs and the soufflé cake.  We like to think that we ate vicariously through him.

Besides all the incredible edible recipes in this book, the other reason to buy it is for the photography (the food photos are phenomenal) and the stories.  I always like a cookbook that gives me a little bit of both.

Part of the reason that I used ramekins instead of metal rings is that I didn't want to invest in purchasing the four metal rings called for in Roy's recipe.  I will not repeat that mistake again.  Next time, it's rings of molten lava, or bust!  (PS—Andy loved them!)

Roy's Chocolate Soufflé – yield:  4 servings

Author's Note:  This is the all-time, absolute favorite of my daughter, Nicole.  Casey Logsdon, our pastry chef at Roy's Kahana Bar and Grill on Maui, has perfected this recipe to the point where frequent visitors to the island claim they return just for this soufflé.  We've made things easier for them now, by also serving this dessert in Honolulu.  This recipe is best when started the day before so the chocolate mixture can rest overnight in the refrigerator.  If you prefer, you can bake the whole recipe in a small casserole dish and serve it at the table, or make individual soufflés in ramekins.  We make our individual chocolate soufflés in metal rings that are available from J.B. Prince Co. in New York (212-302-8611). (Website is

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
¾ cup sugar
1 ¾ tabelspoons cornstarch
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together.  Set aside.  In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch.  In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks together.  Add the melted butter-chocolate mixture to the sugar mixture and combine thoroughly with a wire whisk.  Stir in the eggs and whisk just until smooth.


The next day...preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line 4 metal rings (about 2 ¾ inches across and 2 inches high) with greased parchment paper.  (Alternatively, use 6 smaller molds.)  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set the molds on the sheet.  Scoop the mixture into the molds so they are two-thirds full, and make sure the molds are not leaking.

Bake on the top oven rack for 20 minutes.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and, while holding each mold with tongs, slide a metal spatula underneath, carefully lift, and transfer to a serving plate.  Gently lift off the mold and remove the parchment paper.  Serve immediately.

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