Molten Lava Chocolate Cakes

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I’m not one to turn down a chocolate dessert…or any dessert for that matter! However, I don’t actually make desserts myself that often. I’m more likely to rip into some Haagen Daz than bake a cake. But I got the itch a few weeks ago when my friend Anna was coming for dinner and I saw this recipe for molten lava cake by the Neelys. Gooey chocolate cake? Yes, please.

This recipe was actually quite easy for a from-scratch recipe. Melting chocolate is always a little tedious, but that’s about the extent of it. And these cakes came out delicious! Perfectly cooked on the outer edges and hot, gooey chocolate meltiness in the inside. I loved the touch of putting granulated sugar in the ramekins before you add the chocolate — you get a little sugary crunch on the outside. And the pinch of cayenne was just right for a little bit of heat. I cut the recipe in half to make four mini cakes. And I’ll be honest — even I couldn’t finish a whole one. Heads up that I had to bake these a while longer than the recipe called for — they clearly weren’t done enough yet — so you might need to check them and proceed accordingly. Just look to see that the top is firming up and cracking a bit.

TW’s Tips

  • These are as good as the chocolate you use — so I recommend picking something a step up from the usual chocolate chips, although those work just fine as well.
  • Serve with ice cream to cut the richness.
  • Make sure you have oven-safe ramekins to bake these in. Muffin tins might also work (haven’t tried it) to make smaller cakes — adjust bake time accordingly.
  • I could take a bit more of the cayenne — I like a little spice — so add a couple pinches if you’re daring.

Molten Lava Cakes

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks butter, unsalted, plus more for ramekins
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 6 large egg yolks

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 8 (6-ounce) ramekins and sprinkle each with about 1/2 teaspoon sugar.

In a saucepan combine butter, cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg, and chocolate over low heat until melted and smooth; stir frequently. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, confectioners’ sugar, eggs and yolks, vanilla extract and almond extract until creamy. Add melted chocolate to the batter and whisk together. Pour into prepared ramekins.

Bake cakes until the top is stiff and cracked and the edges are dark, about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges of the cake with a small paring knife then invert onto plates while warm.

The Ultimate Chocolate Mousse

Here’s a festive one for ya! Anyone who knows me knows that chocolate is one of my favorite things — and this dessert definitely delivers in the chocolate department. And the sweet department. AND the rich department. All of those are good if you ask me!

Warning: this isn’t one of those easy-to-make mousses — it’s the real deal. But when you taste how light and airy it is, you’ll be okay with the work that goes into it. These would make the perfect Christmas Eve dessert with a cup of tea or coffee with a little Baileys thrown in, sitting by the fire. So cozy!

I got this recipe from Tyler Florence’s “Tyler’s Ultimate” cookbook. The first time I made these was for my best friend Melissa’s baby shower — I had to sextuple (Is that a word? Yep, it is.) the recipe to make 24 servings, and it was a LOT of mixing. If you can avoid that, do. And while this recipe is overflowing with chocolate goodness, it was even a little sweet for ME. Which is hard to believe. My solution (discovered while eating the leftovers — I know, life is tough) was to garnish with a bunch of raspberries. The fruit cut through the sweetness perfectly — it was a match made in heaven.

I had leftovers from the shower, so in an attempt to avoid gorging myself on them, I took some to work for my coworker Amber. She loved them so much that she requested I make them again for HER baby shower this month. Something about pregnancy and chocolate, I think! Well — chocolate goes with everything, doesn’t it? Some other ideas for you if you decide to take the plunge:

TW’s Tips

  • Since I was making these for get-togethers, I put them in disposable cups, but if you’re not making a lot of them, I’d recommend using martini glasses to get a little fancy, or little ramekins.
  • If you have a KitchenAid mixer, you’re in luck. I had just a hand mixer and when it comes to whipping egg whites to stiff peaks, you’ll be blessing that KitchenAid.
  • Next time I make this, I’m going to try cutting the sugar that is added to the egg whites to see if I can rein in the sweetness a bit.
  • I used a good quality dark chocolate bar for the garnish, and cut it into rough matchsticks with a chef’s knife.
  • I don’t have a double boiler, but putting a glass bowl on top of a saucepan worked just fine to melt the chocolate.
  • Folding everything together, especially if you are doubling, tripling or sextupling (!) the recipe, is no small feat. Just be patient and it will all come together. I promise.

Enjoy! If you’re a chocolate lover like me, you’ll be thanking me.

Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream and chocolate shavings, for garnish

Directions

Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan containing about 1-inch of barely simmering water (or use a double boiler). Stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool slightly. Then grab a whisk and beat the egg yolks into the chocolate, 1 at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

In a chilled bowl, beat the heavy cream until it begins to thicken up. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the vanilla and continue beating until the cream holds soft peaks.

Now that you’ve got the elements prepared, put it all together. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Then, fold in the whipped cream. Take care not over work the mousse or it will be heavy. Divide the mousse between 4 individual glasses, preferably Moroccan glasses. Cover and chill for several hours. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings before serving.