Lava cakes are one of the most fabulous desserts I know of: oozing dark chocolate, crispy brownie outside, and melt-in-your-mouth goodness all wrapped up in an elegant presentation. Would you believe it if I told you that they take about 10 minutes to make and only 14 minutes to cook? Goodness – that something so good should be so easy is like a little chocolate miracle!
There are fussy recipes out there which have you shape balls out of ganache for the centers, or fill a pan with water to cook the ramekins in, but you can probably guess that my recipe is not like that. I’m all about simplicity, and I regularly look for the easiest route to an end product- as long as it doesn’t affect that end product.
And I can tell you- with conviction – that this simple recipe does not affect the end product at all…no sireee.
The recipe makes four half-cup sized ramekins. I used to make larger cakes, but they are really rich, so I cut the recipe down to fit into half-cup sizes. One of my “secrets” to making it easy to unmold the cakes after cooking (which isn’t really a secret- just good practice) is to generously brush the insides of the ramekins with butter – making sure to get all the crevices. Then I dust the cups with cocoa powder (not flour) so that there are no white particles when the cakes are released after cooking.
And more chocolate is always a good thing in my book.
After prepping the ramekins, continue with the recipe, mixing the batter and dividing it between the cups. Bake until the top looks set – just make sure to bake the cakes right before you want to eat them, as they are gooiest when warm.
Tip: I often make the batter about an hour in advance (there’s no baking powder so they can sit even overnight in the fridge) and leave them on the counter while I prepare the meal. As we are sitting down to eat dinner, I’ll pop the cakes into the oven to cook while we’re eating so that they are perfectly molten when we’re ready for dessert.
Unmold the cakes by inverting the ramekins onto individual dessert plates with in about 5 minutes of removing from the oven. Lift off the ramekin carefully using a hot pad – but as long as I butter and dust the insides of the cups, I’ve never had a problem with the cakes sticking. They really are easy all the way around!
I like to dust with more cocoa powder – you could use powdered sugar or drizzle with homemade chocolate syrup as well. Sometimes we even add a scoop of ice cream- but really not very often, as these are so rich.
They’re so unassuming when served, but as soon as the fork hits them, the oohs and aahs start. Then when the first bite is taken…
Well, let’s just say you better be ready with the recipe!
- ½ c. (3-1/2 oz.) chopped chocolate or chocolate chips (bittersweet or semisweet)
- ⅓ c. butter (plus more for greasing)
- ½ c. sugar
- 3 Tb. flour (whole wheat pastry works good)
- 2 eggs
- cocoa powder for dusting
- Heat oven to 400 degrees (if you are cooking right away). Generously grease the inside of four ½-cup ramekins with softened butter and dust with cocoa powder, tapping out any excess.
- Melt the chocolate and butter together how you like, using a double boiler, or in the microwave. I prefer the microwave - I use a 4-cup glass measure and heat for 45 seconds, and then whisk until smooth. If using a double boiler, transfer the chocolate mixture to a medium sized bowl.
- Stir in the sugar and flour. Then add the eggs and whisk until everything is incorporated.
- Divide the batter evenly between the cups (they will be about ¾ full) and set the cups on a small cookie sheet to make it easy to go in and out of the oven. **
- Bake for 15 minutes until tops are firm and edges are set. Invert immediately (or at least within five minutes) onto individual serving plates. Dust with additional cocoa powder, if desired.