Raspberry Tunnel of Runny Lava Cake

It all started out well enough. Following the recipe for Raspberry Tunnel of Fudge Cake in Chocolate American Style by Lora Brody, I made a quick ganache with 8 oz of dark chocolate, ½ cup of heavy cream, and 1/3 cup of raspberry jam, then scooped it onto a ring stencil I’d traced on a piece of wax paper. Into the freezer it went while I prepared the cake batter. This would be my Tunnel of Raspberry Fudge.

The batter smelled (and tasted—a girl’s gotta lick, right?) intoxicating, deeply chocolatey and still light and fluffy. Three different kinds of chocolate—unsweetened, semisweet, and cocoa powder—plus buttermilk seemed to be a recipe for birthday bliss. And then, the moment of truth: It was time to assemble. I spooned half the batter into the bottom of the bundt pan, and pulled the ganache ring from the freezer—it was to be sandwiched between layers, forming the Tunnel of Fudge as it baked. What the recipe didn’t mention was that fresh ganache spreads, so unless you’ve created a mold of some sort, what started out as a neatly measured ring will become a flat, wide disk by the time you go to use it—picture a donut, run over by a semi. Somewhat frantically, I started cutting away excess ganache, hoping to reduce the ring back to a size that would fit in the bundt pan. While I did that, Stephen cut hunks from the excess and piled them in on top of the now-neat ring. All of this was done as quickly as possible, as the heat of the preheated oven (not to mention our fingers) was making the ganache melty and hard to work with. Five minutes later, we had something that approximated a Tunnel of Fudge, and licked our raspberry ganached fingers in satisfaction. I covered it with the remaining batter and popped it into the oven.

Over the next forty-five minutes, the apartment filled with an aroma that threatened to drive us insane—if the recipe instructions didn’t state explicitly that the cake had to sit for a minimum of twenty minutes before serving, to allow the filling to settle, we’d have dug into it right in the pan, burned tongues be damned. But we managed to restrain ourselves—the cake came from the oven just before we sat down to dinner, and by the time we were ready for dessert nearly 45 minutes had passed.

And then was our second moment of truth: When I cut it open, the filling rushed out like a dam had broken. The inner wall of the cake collapsed under the knife. It threatened to become an unholy mess. Here’s a flash picture that’s truly terrifying:

It tasted pretty darn good—too rich for me in my pregnant state, but Stephen was happy. I built walls of aluminum foil around the two cut sides, to prevent further leakage, and popped the leftover cake in the fridge. All in all, not exactly a disaster, but not a recipe I’d share with you—unless, of course, you have ideas about how to prevent that fountain of ganache from happening again…