Easy Chocolate Lava Cake

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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-It’s Cobblering Time!

The berries are abundant. We have no yeast. It’s time for a quick, use any fruit, simple ingredient cobbler recipe! My husband bought me Genius Desserts a couple years ago, and I cracked it open last week for some inspiration. Inside was the life-changing Meme’s Blackberry Batter Cobbler. It is so easy and so versatile! You literally can use any fruit you have on hand. I made it with a blackberry-blueberry combo last week, but this time I could not resist the strawberries and rhubarb at the store…mmmm…tastes like summer!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 4 cups fresh berries- I just filled a large measuring cup of what I wanted to try
  • 1 cup sugar, plus more for berries
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream (use whole milk if you don’t have cream)
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

 

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INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place berries in a large bowl. Sprinkle some sugar over top to get the juices running. You may want to mash them slightly with your spatula if they are very firm.
  • Melt butter in a large cast iron skillet or ovenproof baking dish in the oven.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add heavy cream/milk and vanilla extract; mix until well combined.

 

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  • Remove baking dish with melted butter from oven. Pour melted butter into flour mixture, and stir.
  • Pour batter into baking dish and mound berries into center of batter- do not mix in or spread out.
  • Transfer dish to oven and bake until top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the batter comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

Stay Safe and Cook On!

Other Posts in the Quarantine Series:

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.

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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.

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  • 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!

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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.

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Stay Safe and Bake On!

 

S’mores and Softball

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Cupcakes are a touchy subject with me.

I have actively eschewed them for about four years…about the time all the “Cupcakeries” started sprouting up. There seemed to be a cupcake shop on every corner, in every town I visited. I don’t like to follow the herd in baking matters, so my cupcake liners have laid fallow in their drawer.  Until two weeks ago.

My daughter plays travel softball and it was her coach’s birthday. It was an occasion screaming for cupcakes! Not just any cupcakes though, s’more cupcakes. The kind of cupcake that embraces all the great things about summer- campfires, simple foods, lazy evenings with groups of friends, vacations. The kind of cupcake that brings back all those golden childhood memories. The kind of cupcake that lingers with you not just for the flavor, but also the experience. That was the cupcake we needed.

A little backstory, Liv has been playing travel softball for three years  and much of our summer is spent in the shadow of a backstop with swirls of red field dirt floating around. When your child plays a sport, you want them to have a good coach who they respect and will learn from.

Enter Vanessa. She is a twenty-something, sassy, former D1 college softball player who took on our group of young ladies- I use the term ladies loosely- this season. She is one of those beautiful souls who tells it like it is, always. She has inspired Liv with her knowledge of the game, passion for playing, and easy-going humor. Vanessa is one of those rare people who come into your life and you hope they will stay.

Vanessa’s birthday happened to fall on a weekend we had a local tournament. She willingly gave up birthday plans to coach our girls. Liv and I decided we needed to do something to celebrate and whenever we decide that, it usually results in baking. We have ten girls on the team plus parents and siblings, so cupcakes were the logical confection. We wanted to do something different though; something you could not just pick up at the local cupcake shop. We talked about flavor profiles and what V. liked, but we were struggling.

As we got on the subject of dinners with Vanessa, it struck me that all of our pre-game rituals involved a Starbucks stop. V. has been on the S’mores Frappucino pretty heavily lately and from that the idea was born. We would bake s’mores cupcakes, bruleed marshmallow and all. With Liv doing the torching…maybe.

My main issue going into this was the frosting. I can make a rockstar, solid-peaked meringue, but how to incorporate marshmallow was the sticky wicket. I thought about melting marshmallows down like I do for Rice Krispie treats, but I worried it would solidify too fast to incorporate. Then a thought from my childhood came to me- Fluff!That gooey, goes best on peanut butter but is good friends with jelly ambrosia of my younger years. I mentioned it to Liv and she gave me the puzzled look. I realized at that moment I had fallen down as a parent. My child had never experienced Fluff. No fluffernutter sandwiches, no banana fluff snackies- how could I have let this happen. Now it could be because she hates peanut butter or that I spent a decade of her life banning all processed foods, who knows but it was getting remedied that afternoon. She was dubious; I was excited.

After our jaunt to the grocery store and the great hunt for Fluff, which by the way is now called “marshmallow cream” and no longer resides in the peanut butter and jelly aisle, we got to work. I gave Liv Nanny’s no-fail chocolate cake recipe and let her have at it. Hard to believe a year ago she barely knew how to make pasta. Now classmates clamber over her cookies and brownies when she brings them to school. They often don’t make it past the bus. Pretty cool!

Ingredients:

Nanny’s No-Fail Chocolate cake (makes one layer cake or 24 cupcakes):
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup Hershey’s dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 3/4 cup room temperature butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups sour cream
Marshmallow Meringue frosting:
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 8 oz. Fluff

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin pans with non-stick spray and line cups with parchment cupcake liners (you can get them anywhere, including Kroger).
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda, and salt.
  • In a stand mixer, beat the room temperature butter with the sugar until incorporated and fluffy. Add the eggs for the cake one at a time.
  • Add the vanilla extract and on low speed, begin adding the flour mixture. Alternate the addition of the flour mixture with the sour cream.
  • Once combined, grab your ice cream scoop and fill the cups about 3/4 full. Bake for about 18 minutes, depending on how fast your oven cooks. You want a toothpick to come out clean when inserted.
  • Remove from oven and cool completely.

Meanwhile, let’s make the frosting.

  • Using a clean stand mixer bowl (clean is really important for meringue), beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. I will say I mistakenly added the sugar prematurely, but everything came out okay so don’t freak out if you make a mistake. Sometimes some of my best recipes come from mistakes!
  • Add in the sugar on high speed until the meringue looks glossy and stiff peaks form. You can judge the peaks by stopping the mixer and lifting the whisk out. If the meringue does not move and holds the peak shape, you are good to go.
  • Time for the Fluff! Fold the Fluff into your meringue. Most people will say you need to be gentle here, and that is preferable, but if you get a little impatient and fold too quickly, just use a hand whisk and bring the meringue back.
  • Once combined, put your frosting in the fridge for about 30 minutes to set.
  • Once cupcakes are completely cool and frosting is set, get out the piping bag and frost the cupcakes.
  • For the brulee, I like a hand torch. They are inexpensive and readily available at most stores. You could also use your oven at high heat. Torch each cupcake to light golden brown color.
  • Insert your mini hershey bars and graham pieces, and voila, S’mores Cupcakes!
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Yes. She did torch the meringue!

After some cooling time, wrangling of the chocolate bars because you know the store did not sell mini hershey bars, and some mangled graham cracker cracking; the cupcakes were frosted and adorned. Of course we tried one because as responsible bakers we could not let things leave our kitchen without a taste test. They were delicious, gooey, and more importantly, Vanessa loved them. Another success for Liv and I!