Chocolate Lava Cakes

Filling

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped or semisweet chocolate

6 T whipping cream

1 T light corn syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cakes

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/4 cup hot coffee or water

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs, separated

Topping

Cocoa powder for the tops

Ice cream or custard sauce for serving

These individual chocolate cakes have a soft center of chocolate fudge that erupts in a rich, dark puddle from the warm cakes. They’re best served just out of the oven.

For the filling, line a plastic ice cube tray with a large piece of plastic wrap. With your fingers, gently poke the plastic down into eight of the cubes so they are fully lined with plastic.

Melt the chocolate with the cream and corn syrup; whisk until smooth. Add the vanilla extract; set aside to cool until tepid.

Fill the eight lined ice cube cups with the chocolate; freeze at least 4 hours, or cover and freeze up to a month.

For the cakes, place rack in center of oven and heat to 425°. Generously butter eight 4-ounce soufflé dishes or ramekins. Place them on a jellyroll pan. Melt chocolate with the coffee. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

Stir in vanilla extract. Cream the butter with 1/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 2 minutes.

Add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stop the mixer and stir in the chocolate mixture.

Fold in the flour and salt with a spatula. Beat the egg whites with a clean mixer until they hold soft peaks. Add the remaining sugar, one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. Continue beating until thick and glossy.

Thoroughly mix one quarter of the beaten egg whites into chocolate batter; gently fold in the rest.

Fill each prepared soufflé dish about halfway full with the chocolate batter. Gently bury a frozen chocolate cube in the center of each; add remaining batter, filling cups almost to the top. Bake until cakes are puffy and set, 18 to 20 minutes.

Gently loosen from the sides of the dishes and invert onto serving plates. Sift cocoa over.

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