Sunday, February 21, 2010

Molten Lava Chocolate Cakes with Caramel

I've made these wonderful little cakes twice now and they've come out wonderful both times. It's a very easy recipe and a great dessert option when you'll be busy making dinner but still want a "just made fresh" end to the meal. You can make this batter even the night before, just bring it up to room temp before tossing in the oven.  From oven to plate is less than 10 minutes.  I've also halved the recipe and made 4 cakes in a jumbo muffin tin.

1 cup butter 
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, or bars, cut into bite-size chunks
5 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
4 teaspoons flour
8 extra-large paper muffin cups (or use regular paper muffin cups, which will make 12 cakes)


Melt butter and chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; remove from heat. Beat eggs, sugar and salt with a hand mixer in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Beat egg mixture into chocolate until smooth. Beat in flour or matzo meal until just combined. (Batter can be made a day ahead; return to room temperature an hour or so before baking.)

Before serving dinner, adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a standard-size muffin tin (1/2 cup capacity) with 8 extra-large muffin papers (papers should extend above cups to facilitate removal). Spray muffin papers with vegetable cooking spray. Divide batter among muffin cups.

Bake until batter puffs but center is not set, 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully lift cakes from tin and set on a work surface. Pull papers away from cakes and transfer cakes to dessert plates.

Both times I've made this recipe, I've served it with homemade caramel sauce. This can take some practice to master, as with most sugar recipes, but if you have the patience you won't regret the final result.  This recipe makes alot, but it can be stored in the fridge. You can also half this recipe also.  When serving with the lava cakes, I half the recipe and still have quite a bit left over for finger dipping ;)

1/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
Bring the water, sugar, and butter to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not stir the mixture until the sugar has reached a nice golden color.5 to 10 minutes, sometimes longer.  Don't rush this step! If you start stirring or mess with the sugar mixture before this point, you may crystalize it. It will be at a rolling boil.

Carefully pour in a slow, steady stream of cream into the caramel while stirring constantly. The hot caramel will boil vigorously when the cream is added and solidify in areas. Add the vanilla extract and salt. Continue stirring over low heat until the caramel is smooth and creamy, 5 to 10 minutes more. Allow to cool for at least half an hour before using.