A single-serve bowl of delights

Amy Scattergood, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

At Republique, the bell tower-topped church of a restaurant on La Brea Avenue that was once Campanile, there are many things you could order for dessert after you’ve polished off chef-owner Walter Manzke’s roast chicken or his massive cassoulet.

Pastry chef Margarita Manzke, who was recently nominated for a James Beard award, makes a pretty spectacular chocolate cake, in addition to the catalog of lovely things that fill the pastry cases.

The chocolate fondant cake is kind of like a flourless chocolate cake in a ceramic bowl. The dessert arrives hot from the oven, strewn with hazelnuts and topped with a quenelle of ice cream just beginning to melt, rather like the yolk of a 63-degree egg on top of, well, anything these days.

Margarita, an alum of Spago, Patina, Melisse and Bastide (in case you too like to play connect the dots with L.A. chefs), uses Valrhona chocolate for the dish. You probably should too when you make the dessert at home — since there are few things in this world more lovely than warm chocolate, which is why we asked her for the recipe.

Republique’s Chocolate Fondant Cake

Time: 40 minutes.

Serves: 6

3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) butter

8 ounces 80 percent Valrhona chocolate, chopped or “feves”

11/3 cups plus 11/2 teaspoons (270 grams) sugar

31/2 tablespoons cornstarch

4 eggs

4 egg yolks

Toasted hazelnuts, for garnish

Ice cream, for garnish

Heat a convection oven to

400 degrees.

In a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (double boiler), melt the butter and chocolate. While the butter and chocolate are melting, in a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch, along with the eggs and egg yolks.

Whisk the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Divide the mixture among 6 (10-ounce) ramekins, filling each with a generous 1/2 cup mixture.

Place the ramekins onto a baking sheet (this can be done in 2 batches), and bake just until the mixture begins to souffle and the top of each has mostly crusted over (there will be a “skin” in the very center that is not quite hard), 10 to 12 minutes depending on the oven.

Top each ramekin with a sprinkling of toasted hazelnuts and a scoop of ice cream before serving.

Each serving, without garnish: Calories 691, protein 9 g, carbohydrates 73 g, fiber 3 g, fat 40 g, saturated fat 24 g, cholesterol 308 mg, sugar 63 g, sodium 59 mg.

Note: Adapted from a recipe from chef Margarita Manzke of Republique restaurant in Los Angeles.

This recipe requires the use of a convection oven and 6 (10-ounce)