Chocolate Lava Cakes
Attention all chocolate lovers. This is the dessert for you. It is served warm and made to order. Some of the fancier restaurants will give you the “we will need 30 minutes to get it ready so please order when we deliver your entrée” line. I think they may just be eager to get your wallet open. We’ll never know the truth, but I’m one of those people who are sure to order, whether too full or not.
We’re going to break this chocolate treasure down and make it attainable for all of you at home. Take a brief look at the ingredients list below. I will get into the list as we move forward.
Chocolate- Total of 8 ounces combination of Semi and Bittersweet
Vanilla Extract 1 Teaspoon
Orange Flavor 2 Tablespoons
Butter 1 ¼ sticks
Flour ½ cup All Purpose
Confectioner’s Sugar 1 ½ cups
3 Whole eggs and 3 Egg Yolks
PAM brand spray for baking
6-8 Oven proof Ramekins
Before you get to the cooking, you should prep your ingredients. Let’s start with the Chocolate. I prefer using 5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and 3 ounces of semisweet. If you prefer your cakes sweeter shift to 4 ounces and 4 ounces. Like your cakes less sweet shift to 6 ounces bitter and 2 semi sweet. Don’t shift more than one ounce in either direction as your flavor will suffer for it.
More on the chocolate… If you don’t have a kitchen scale, buy your chocolate in easily measurable chocolate baking squares. If you do have a scale, try and buy your chocolate in morsels or chips. The morsels melt faster and you save yourself a few minutes in the double boiler. I used a combination of different types of bitter/semisweet chocolate as an example.
Sugar, flour and butter are pretty straight forward with measurement. Be sure to cut your butter into small pieces, as the smaller the pieces the easier and faster it will melt in your double boiler.
I put my vanilla extract and orange flavoring in the same prep bowl; they go in the process at the same time, so spare yourself cleaning another bowl. Be sure not to fall for the smell of vanilla extract. Use only what I listed above. It’s pretty potent stuff.
Now onto the orange flavoring… Know your audience. If you plan on your kids taking down these cakes with vanilla ice cream, use orange juice. If you are hosting a grown up dinner and want to impress, my recommendation is to use a little bit of Grand Marnier. (You may want to keep the bottle out and serve with your cake!)
Let’s get to the cooking. You number one objective is to begin by mixing the chocolate and butter. You can accomplish this by using a microwave save bowl and placing the chocolate and butter in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time and then whisking the mixture until silky and smooth. What I like to do is use a double boiler method. I used my kitchen mixer bowl and find pot large enough for it to sit comfortably inside without falling in. I fill my pot with water and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, I turn the heat town to the lowest setting and set the mixer bowl on top. I start wisking, and before you know it silky and smooth.
The purpose for using the metal mixer bowl is that you can quickly more your melted chocolate from the double boiler to the mixer and have the mixer finish the job for you. Attach the whisk and set to a low setting. Add your flour and sugar and keep your setting to low. Once your powdery white combination turns to a chocolate concoction, add the vanilla, orange, and eggs. Keep the mixing setting on low for a minute and increase the speed to incorporate all of your ingredients. You want to get your mixture to be lump free and have a shiny chocolaty look too it. If you are doing all the whisking by hand it may be time to get one of those 20 buck handheld blender/mixers.
Grab your ramekins and your PAM for baking. I recommend using 8, 5 ounce ramekins for a better serving size. You may do 6, 6 ounce ramekins, but I feel that the cake becomes overwhelming as a desert following a good meal.
Spray the PAM for baking generously inside your ramekins. I recommend doing this process over your sink. Your sink is a better place for excess spray then your counters or floor.
Split your chocolate mixture evenly in your Ramekins and either place on top of one of those aluminum disposable trays or if you don’t plan on eating immediately, wrap them individually in plastic wrap and place in your fridge. (be sure to bring to room temperature before eating later) Preheat your oven to 425 and bake for approx 13 minutes. I will place a disclaimer here.
The only challenge to this amazing cake is the cooking time. Every oven is different so you may need some trial and error. Cook too long and you get a delicious warm cake; cook too little and you get bits of cake in a pool of delicious warm chocolate soup. Cook just right, and you get warm cake on the outside and once you break into that cake, you get the perfect amount of melted chocolate goodness.
So, how do we mitigate soup or straight cake. We use a toothpick similarly to an oil dipstick in a car. Poke your cake in the middle, you are looking for just a little give and then want your toothpick to have little to no more resistance thereafter. Poke the outer part of the cake and you want to feel cake here.My oven’s optimal time is 13 ¾ minutes. You have 6-8 tries on getting it right. If you will be having a dinner party for 6, try your luck with one and test your cook time. If you fail and overcook, reduce your time with the second…I once brought these delights to a friend’s house and the cakes took 20 minutes to get right in their oven. Plus, what fun is making these if you don’t get to at least try them to make sure they are good.
Finally, presentation. I am a fan of simple confectioner’s sugar and berries. Raspberries are good, strawberries as well. If you have the room, you can do ice cream, or whipped cream, or all of the above. If you get ambitious, you may try a berry and port reduction/compote and serve that on top/side. But the compote is favorite food for another day!
Enjoy the cakes and let me know how your attempt goes. We love to hear from or readers!