Easy Chocolate Lava Cake

IMG_6494

I love a cake that is only a few ingredients and cooks all in one pan…and is decadently chocolate. I have ordered Molten Lava Cakes out at restaurants, but since I am not going to restaurants right now, what better time to try one at home. I saw this one on Williams Sonoma Instagram and made a few adjustments.

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 6 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 Tbs. Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted…plus more for dusting
  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly butter six ramekins and dust with cocoa powder. Set the ramekins on a small baking sheet.
  • In the top pan of a double boiler, combine the chocolate and butter. Set the pan over but not touching barely simmering water in the bottom pan and melt the chocolate and butter, then whisk until the mixture is glossy and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer with whisk attachment, or a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks, 3 Tbs. of the sugar, and cocoa powder on medium-high speed until thick. Spoon the chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture and beat until well blended. The mixture will be thick and somewhat grainy looking. Detach bowl from stand mixer if using, set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, using clean mixer whisk or beaters, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they are very foamy and thick. Sprinkle in the remaining 3 Tbs. sugar and increase the speed to high. Continue beating until firm, glossy peaks form. You can tell they are ready when you detach whisk, turn upside down and peaks stay firm.
  • Spoon half of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture and fold in just blended. Add the remaining whites and fold gently until just blended. Spoon into the prepared ramekins, dividing evenly.
  • Bake the cakes until they are puffed and the tops are cracked, about 25-30 minutes. The inside of the cracks will look very wet. Remove from the oven and serve immediately in the ramekins.

    **I had some leftover cakes and refrigerated. They were delicious the next day after just 30 seconds in the microwave.

Tip: If you want something perfect to accompany this, I served it with a scoop of Helados La Neta, a handcrafted ice cream inspired by flavors of Mexico. I served the Horchata flavor, and just wow!

Cooking in Quarantine- Simple Sticky Buns

I have been dying to bake some sticky buns for a couple of weeks, but yeast has been non-existent in the stores. I know everybody is baking bread, but jeez! I found this riff on sticky buns in one of my Ina Garten books, added a couple of twists, and I may never need yeast again…This is seriously as easy as it gets for a sticky bun recipe.

IMG_5493

Gooey Deliciousness!

Ingredients: IMG_5485

Buns-
  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar (original called for light, but I have not been able to buy it for over a month)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
  • 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
Filling-
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup pitted dates, chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a 12-cup standard muffin pan on a baking sheet  lined with parchment paper.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Put one scoop of the mixture in each muffin cup, evenly distributing. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

IMG_5486

  • Lightly flour a surface- I used my countertop. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with half of the melted butter. Combine brown sugar, and cinnamon and sprinkle each sheet with 1/2 of mixture. Spread the chopped dates across the sheets.
  • Roll up the pastry sheets as tightly as you can, finishing with the seam side down. Trim the ends and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper. You will probably need to use a spoon to gather the filling still in the cups and redistribute on top of buns.

My husband mistakenly grabbed them a little too quickly and burned his tongue…it will be hard, but you may want to let them cool slightly 🙂 Yum, Yum!

IMG_5492

Stay Safe and Bake On!

Other Posts in the Quarantine Series:

 

Baking with Booze

Now that we no longer know what day it is, seems fitting to bring some booze into the recipes. This week I took a family favorite, Clafoutis, and gave it a makeover with a few different types of fruit and alcohol. I know the name sounds fancy, but it is really just a French custard cake made with seven ingredients. I adapted my mother recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

 

Ingredients:IMG_5427

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsps unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsps liqueur of choice (I have tried Rum, Frangelico, Amaretto)
  • 2 generous cups fruit of choice (I have tried apples, peaches, blueberries, cherries)

**Tip** DO NOT USE CITRUS FRUIT…it will curdle your batter

**Tip2**Gird your loins if you pick cherries…pitting is not for the faint of heart

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 400. Beat the sugar and eggs together with a whisk or in a stand mixer with whisk attachment, until they lighten in color. Gradually add butter, beating to incorporate.
  • Add the flour and salt all at once and whisk until the batter is combined. Next, slowly pour in the cream. Add the booze of choice, mixing well. The batter should be very smooth and shiny. Detach your bowl if using a stand mixer and move it to the fridge. the batter needs to rest 30 minutes before baking.
  • Meanwhile in a separate bowl, mix your fruit and liqueur together to macerate (fancy word for how the fruit absorbs the liqueur). Depending on fruit I add a few other ingredients to this party. For example, brown sugar and cinnamon for apples. Use your judgement and what you like.
  • Arrange half of your fruit in a buttered glass or earthenware baking dish, cake pan (9 or 10 inches in diameter) or skillet that can go in the oven. (I used a 9-inch cake pan.)
  • Remove your batter from fridge and add the liqueur left in fruit bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour the batter over the fruit. Arrange the rest of fruit on top of batter.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until slightly browned and almost completely set in the middle. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving.

IMG_4339

Stay Safe and Bake On!

 

Easter Cheesecake

IMG_1367

The seersucker suits. The pastel bonnets. The array of delicately patterned eggs nestled around the yard waiting to be found. I love Easter. It is one of those holidays that still holds some non-commercial magic in our family. We gather together at Granny’s house for some food, fellowship and front yard football. It is potluck style. Everybody brings their favorites and Granny cooks a big ham to share.

Liv and I have been on a roll with cheesecakes lately so we decided that would be our contribution. The pumpkin cheesecake at Thanksgiving was a huge success, and the Chai cheesecake at Christmas was decimated. We talked about flavors and decided to try a riff on Cadbury Eggs. My kids love these Easter confections and this would be an opportunity to teach Liv how to make caramel from scratch. We talked about how to recreate the flavor profile of the eggs and decided on a white chocolate filling, a chocolate graham cracker crust, and layer of toppings that included caramel, chocolate ganache and chopped up Cadbury Eggs.

Ingredients:

Crust-

1 box chocolate grahams, ground

1 stick unsalted butter

Filling-

8 ounces white chocolate

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 tub mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup granulated sugar

4 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

2 tbsp. all purpose flour

1tbsp. pure vanilla extract

Toppings-

1/4 cup lt. brown sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

3 oz. dark chocolate

4 Cadbury Cream Eggs, chilled overnight and quartered

Procedure:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees to bake the crust. Butter a 14 inch springform pan and place a disk of parchment paper in the bottom. I do this so the cake will easily release and I can move it to a tupperware container for transport.

Using a food processor, grind the chocolate graham crackers. I use a whole box because I like my crust to come up the sides of the cheesecake, but if you prefer just a bottom crust, just use two packs of the grahams. Once they are ground, transfer to a bowl and combine with melted stick of butter. You want the crumbs to be moist with butter, but not greasy. Press the mixture into your prepared springform pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until crust begins to darken slightly and hold together. Once finished, cool to room temperature before filling. Drop your oven to 325 degrees for the cheesecake.

Next comes the filling. Get a double boiler going over medium heat (or you can use a large bowl over simmering water) and place your white chocolate in the top. Once melted, remove from heat and allow to cool. Meanwhile in a stand mixer, beat your cream cheese and mascarpone until fluffy. Add sugar and combine. Next add the eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl as needed.

Once the mixture is combined, add the flour and vanilla extract. By this time your white chocolate should have cooled. Add that slowly to the mixer, beating until all is smooth.

The next step may be the most important for a tasty, unbroken cheesecake. Cut some large pieces of heavy duty foil and make a shell layer around the springform pan. It should come up to the edges of the pan. Then place your foil-lined pan in a larger pan (I use a Wilton bottom cake layer round). Fill your crust with the cheesecake filling and move the pan to the oven. Once secure on the rack. Fill the outer pan with warm water until it comes about halfway up the springform. This will allow the cheesecake to bake in a water bath. Water baths ensure even baking when cooking a custard or egg-based cake. It is the only way I have found to get the perfect texture with a cheesecake.

Bake the cheesecake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. At this point the edges should be set, but the center should still be wobbly. Shut the oven off and open the door to allow some heat out. Then shut the door and leave the cheesecake in there another hour to finish baking. Once finished, cool on a rack to room temperature. After it reaches room temperature, it will need to chill and set in the fridge for about 8 hours.

Meanwhile, let’s make the toppings. I love homemade caramel and it is pretty easy to make. It just take precise measuring and patience. I let Liv do this completely on her own with just some verbal direction from me. First, you melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Once the butter is melted, add the brown sugar and stir with butter. Then comes the cream. Once you put the cream in the pan, you must whisk it constantly until it cooks down to a dark toffee color and reduces by about half. If it smells burnt at all, you must do it again. Luckily, Liv got it right on the first try! We put the caramel in a small sandwich bag and put it in the fridge to cool slightly.

The other topping is a dark chocolate to drizzle on top of the cheesecake. We did the same thing with it as the white chocolate. Bring some water to simmer in the bottom of a double boiler and put the dark chocolate in top. Allow it to melt completely. Once smooth, place it in another sandwich bag and put in the fridge to cool.

The Cadbury Eggs should be good and hard by this time. Move them to a cutting board and gently cut them into quarters. arrange them around the perimeter of the cheesecake. Next take your cooled caramel and snip the tip of the sandwich bag so you get a very slight opening to drizzle caramel. We did a spiderweb pattern with both toppings, but you can decorate however you like. Do the same with the chocolate- a slight snip in the tip and drizzle the chocolate over the caramel, creating whatever pattern you like. Once it is decorated, put it in the fridge to chill and set.

It was a huge hit for our Easter gathering and I even heard some say it was their favorite cheesecake yet!