Yields: 8 servings

Cook’s notes: These are based on the Chocolate-Basil Truffle Rounds in my book Desserts From an Herb Garden. This versatile recipe is open to all sorts of flavorings: 2 tablespoons minced basil leaves were melted in the butter in the original recipe; you could leave that out for plain chocolate rounds, or substitute 1 to 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, or a dash or almond or mint extract (especially with the almond, truly just a dash — try 1/4 teaspoon, then adjust to taste — too much, and it’s bitter). Or serve plain chocolate onesĀ  with softly whipped cream beaten with a big spoonful of whisked raspberry jam.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped, or 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

3 large eggs, separated

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Garnish: Lightly sweetened whipped cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or grease eight 4-inch, removable-bottom tartlet tins. Set tins on a baking sheet.

Melt butter with cinnamon in the top of a double boiler set over (not touching) barely simmering water, or in a microwave. Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Set aside to cool slightly; mixture will be very thick.

In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks; add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks until bubbly; whisk into chocolate mixture. Fold in about 1/4 cup beaten whites to lighten the chocolate mixture, then gently but thoroughly fold in remaining whites.

Divide batter among tins. Bake 15 minutes, until tops have just set (mixture will still be soft in the middle). Let cool on a wire rack (the puffed tops will fall), then serve or chill, covered.

To serve, remove tin sides. With a thin-bladed metal spatula, lift rounds from the bases and transfer to dessert plates. Serve cold or at room temperature, with a dollop of whipped cream.

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