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The Hearth

For many centuries in Italy and around the world, the hearth of the home has been the center of everything. It is a place where families and friends gather, eat and drink, share stories and create memories.

In the spirit of preserving that tradition, The Hearth is an online community available exclusively for A Tavola members. The Hearth grants exclusive access to a library of special recipes, stories, and culinary tips from Michael Chiarello. Check back often, and we'll let you know when there's something new!

Allison Negron
December 15, 2015 | Allison Negron

Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine

2 cinnamon sticks
1 handful juniper berries
1 handful allspice berries
1 whole nutmeg
Magnum of zinfandel (or 2 standard bottles of zinfandel)
1 cup sugar in the raw
Peel from 1/2 an orange
Combine cinnamon, juniper, allspice and nutmeg in a cheesecloth bag and drop in a saucepan with a quarter of the wine. Add the sugar and orange peel. Simmer to blend flavors, about 6 minutes. Add the remaining wine and return to a simmer. Remove spice bag and orange peel and serve. Makes six servings.
If transporting in a thermos, fill the thermos up with hot water to get it hot, about one minute, then fill with mulled wine.
To view a printable version of this recipe, click here.
Time Posted: Dec 15, 2015 at 10:00 AM
Allison Negron
August 10, 2015 | Allison Negron

Michael's Molten Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

Molten Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

It is wonderfully child-like to eat a cupcake. Make that cupcake out of a flourless chocolate cake batter and they grow up to be just plain wonderful. Arrange on a two-tiered dessert stand and dust the entire pyramid with powdered sugar. These are perfect to serve at a buffet dinner, as you need no plate, simply a napkin to catch the drop of oozing chocolate running down your chin.

Vegetable spray for greasing the pan
Individual cupcake liners (gold if you can find them), paper
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bitter-sweet chocolate, preferably Scharffen Berger
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 and 1/3 cups granulated sugar 
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon finely ground sea salt, preferably gray salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degree F.
Preheat cupcake pan in a 300 degree F oven on baking sheets for about 5 minutes.
Lightly grease a muffin pan with room for 12 muffins (each mold should hold about 1/3 cup). Dust each mold with cocoa.
Combine the butter and cream in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Thinly shave 5 ounces of the chocolate with a large knife and put the chocolate in a medium bowl. When the cream mixture comes to a simmer, pour it over the chocolate and mix gently to incorporate the ingredients.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, mayonnaise, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt just until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and gently mix just until the homogeneous. Mixing too much will prevent the eggs from rising in the oven. Scoop about 1/4 cup of the batter into each mold (about 3/4 of the way up the sides). Bake just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. While hot, add a chunk of remaining 3 ounces of chocolate in the center of each, by gently pushing it through the top of the cupcake in the center. Cool the pan on a rack for 10 minutes and then unmold them. Serve warm on a pedestal or platter, stacked two-high if possible in pyramid form. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Serving Suggestion:
This is one of the few desserts I love with red wine, a very ripe Zinfandel - great with our Giana Zinfandel!

Michael's Notes:
Be certain to add the chocolate chunk into the cake while still quite hot from the oven otherwise the crust will form and you will damage the appearance. The mayonnaise is here to add moisture to the cake. You could omit it with out adjusting the recipe but it has an amazing effect.

For a printable version of the recipe, click here.