By Rosie Hawthorne on February 4, 2020
One can never go wrong with chocolate. Whether or not you indulge in Valentine’s Day, these molten chocolate lava cakes, for purity of taste and simplicity of execution, are a perfect dessert for any meal. You have lovely cake on the outside and when you slice into it, you find an irresistible river of flowing, liquid, dark chocolate.
These cakes have been on restaurant menus since the late 80s, when, as the story goes, famed French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten made a mistake. He was baking 500 individual cakes using his mother’s recipe for chocolate sponge cake and failed to adjust time and temperature for that many cakes in the professional ovens. Sacré bleu! The cakes were underbaked. When diners cut into the cakes, a luscious cascade of chocolate flowed out. Serendipitously, the molten chocolate lava cake was born.
Besides being decadently delicious, these cakes can be on your table, from start to finish, within an hour, and they’re basically foolproof to make – if you underbake them, they come out just right; if, by chance, you overbake them, you still get a wonderfully moist chocolate cake, minus the molten interior which you can always fake with some adroitly applied chocolate syrup. All you need for accompaniment is ice cream or whipped cream, perhaps some fruit, and a little chocolate ganache to make a capital D in Decadence.
Heat oven to 450°.
Butter and cocoa your ramekins, shaking out any excess, and set on a baking sheet. Here’s my Rosie Tip for you: instead of buttering and flouring a pan for chocolate cake, use cocoa powder instead of flour. You get more flavor and no white streaks.
Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water. Whisk mixture until smooth.
In a medium bowl, beat egg, yolk, sugar, and salt at high speed until thickened and light-colored.
Quickly, fold chocolate mixture and flour into egg mixture, until just mixed.
Spoon batter evenly into the two prepared ramekins and bake 11-12 minutes, until sides are firm.
Remove from oven and let sit for a minute, then cover with dessert plate and carefully invert. Let stand for a few seconds to unmold. Serve immediately, with ice cream or whipped cream and strawberries and/or raspberries. If desired, pour a little chocolate ganache over top.
Chocolate ganache is a versatile chocolate concoction of simply chocolate and cream which can be used for truffles, icings, glazes, and syrups. Whether you want it thick for frosting or thin for pouring depends on the proportion of chocolate to cream. For a pourable consistency, I use one part chocolate to two parts cream, by weight.
Heat cream and then pour over chocolate. You don’t have to boil or even simmer the cream. It just needs to be hot enough to melt the chocolate. Let chocolate melt, then whisk until smooth. While still warm, pour ganache over ice cream and cake.