I was in desperate need of a chocolate fix when I stumbled upon this recipe for Molten Lava Cakes by Paula Deen. For some reason anything with the word ‘lava’ in it makes me think of the seventies. Because of lava lamp, maybe? Anyhow, because of this association, this dessert first struck me as very retro, liked baked Alaska or those jello molds. But the more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me. It seemed incredibly easy and who can resist cutting their fork into a piece of cake to have their plate flood with a thick, oozing stream of warm chocolate heaven? Not me!
With a bit of poking on the Internet, I discovered that this is basically a French dessert, otherwise known as Moelleux au Chocolat. We call them lava cakes because the batter is not completely cooked, causing that liquid center to run out, like lava from a volcano.
The cakes are baked in custard cups, but ramekins or even a muffin tin can be used. The trick is to serve them fresh from the oven. Cool them slightly and then run a knife around the edges to loosen; invert each cake onto serving plates. The cooking time may be as little as 10 minutes but up to 14 minutes. The edges should be firm but the center wobbly.
I like to dust mine with a little icing sugar and serve them with strawberries or raspberries, if they’re in season. They’re also wonderful with creme anglaise or a raspberry coulis, if you want to bother.
Molten Lava Cakes
Adpated from Paula Deen courtesy of The Food Network
6 (1 ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate
2 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
1) Preheat oven to 425F. Grease 6 (6 ounce) custard cups. Melt the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler.
2) Add the flour and sugar to the chocolate mixture. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and liqueur.
3) Divide the batter evenly among the custard cups; it should come up about three-quarters of the way.
4) Place in the oven and bake for 10-14 minutes, until edges are set and have shrunk slightly away from the custard cups.
5) Invert each cake onto a dessert place and serve immediately.