I couldn’t resist adding in yet another Valentines recipe for you. About 6 years ago I decided that I would start a new tradition on Valentines. Instead of joining the crowds at restaurants, I opted for staying at home and making a fancy dinner for my family. The table is set all beautiful to make everyone feel like we brought the restaurant home. It’s an all day celebration at our house because I love holidays. And any chance I can get to celebrate the day with food, I’m on it. Food brings family together and is such a huge part of my own family’s quality time to spend together. Every year I generally tend to make the same dessert for Valentines–the ever-so-decadent Soft Chocolate mini cake, or Molten Lava Cake. It’s a simple, yet completely delicious dessert. I love the presentation because everyone gets their own little chocolate mini cake in a cute little ramekin. The cake is a soft chocolate cake cooked only long enough so the top creates almost a brownie like texture and the center of the cake is oozing with a decadent molten lava. I love serving it with a side of creamy vanilla bean ice cream. Perfection! And now I’m hungry. These mini chocolate cakes have always seemed so daunting and difficult to make. I was so afraid to make them for so many years but guess what? They are pretty simple to make. The key to ensure a perfect cake with that gooey center is making sure you don’t overcook them. Also use the best quality chocolate you can afford. I like to use Callebaut milk and semi-sweet chocolate for these cakes but use the one that you love. Guittard, Ghiardelli, Scharffen Berger, Mast Brothers and Valrhona are great brands. Ok, so let’s get started on the details.
Always have your ingredients prepped and ready to go. Position a rack on the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. I like to preheat my oven for at least 30 minutes. No one’s oven temperatures are the same. Next time you preheat your oven, place an oven thermometer inside your oven to see if the preheated temperature matches the inside temperature of your oven. They are generally not the same. Lightly butter 4 ramekins that are 5- 6 ounces. Place a saucepan with about one inch of water and bring to a simmer. Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over (not touching) the sauce pan with simmering water. Heat until it’s melted, then stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt. Mix on high speed, and beat until thickened, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and gradually sprinkle the flour over the batter and continue beating until just combined. Using a spatula, fold the egg mixture into the cooled chocolate until combined. Do not over mix.
Divide the batter among the prepared ramekins. Place the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the tops are puffed and dry and the center is soft but set.
Let stand for one minute then serve in ramekins with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream, if you’d like. (Trust me, you will like) It’s a dessert that will guarantee smiles and praises.