Somehow, I have this false impression that it requires skills and experience of a pastry chef to make them...probably because I only get to eat this delicious dessert during one of those rare occasions when I meet up with my friends for dinners.
Well, although the recipe is so straight forward, I only got it right on the second attempt. The first time I made them, I did the most unforgivable mistake of over baking...by just 2 minutes! The cake tasted awesome, but it didn't flow like lava :'(
The second attempt was perfect! This time I made sure my oven was well preheated just to be very sure that the cake would be cooked within the recommended baking time. I removed the cake from the oven once the timer started to beep. The surface appeared barely cooked, it was 'just set'. I was so tempted to put it back into the oven to bake it a little longer!
Besides baking time, the timing to unmold the cake from the ramekin is also one of the critical success factors to note. After removing from the oven, leave them in the ramekins to cool for at least 1 to 2 mins. This is to allow the cake to set a little, it may fall apart if you try to unmold it straight out of the oven. But this doesn't mean you should leave them in the ramekins forever as the cakes are meant to be served warm.
Surprisingly, unmolding the cake is not as difficult as I thought. Just run a knife around the sides of the ramekin, then flip it over a serving plate and remove the ramekin. The cake will not get stuck to the ramekin as long as you have greased it really well. Do be careful as the ramekin will be very hot.
I have also tried serving these molten chocolate cakes in the ramekin...saves me the trouble of unmolding and washing up extra serving plates ;)
Another wonderful thing I discovered about making these lava cakes is, you can actually prepare the batter a few hours ahead of time, keep them in the fridge and bake only when ready to serve. This is really something new to me. Whenever we order this dessert at cafes or restaurants, we were always told to place the order in advance as it would take at least 20 to 30 mins to prepare. So all along I was given the impression that this dessert can only be made and served right away!
As with any homemade chocolate cakes, do use the best quality baking chocolate you could afford. I have made these with valrhona baking chocolates and also Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips. It must be my unsophisticated palates, both tasted equally good to me even though one is more expensive than the other. I wouldn't attempt to describe how delicious these lava cakes turn out...but the fact that I made them 4 times in a row gets to show how everyone in the family loves it, and of course how easy it is for me to bake them!
If you are a first timer and eager to give this a try, you may want to hop over to my favourite baking website, joyofbaking.com to watch this video to get an idea how to go about making molten chocolate cakes and to avoid any pitfalls. The video certainly boost my confidence and I am very thankful for the wonderful and generous sharing by Stephanie Jaworsk. I have learned a lot from her website, she mades baking really easy for self taught home bakers like me :)
Molten Lava Chocolate Cake
(makes 4 servings)
135g dark chocolate
65g unsalted butter
2 large eggs
45g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
25g plain flour
some butter for greasing
- Preheat oven to 200 degC.
- Bring a saucepan of water to a simmer. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl by setting the bowl over the saucepan; make sure the bowl is bigger than the saucepan. Stir the mixture to ensure all the chocolate is melted and the mixture becomes smooth. Remove from heat; set aside to cool.
- Generously grease the bottom and sides of four 180ml (6 oz) size ramekins with butter; set aside.
- Place eggs in the mixing bowl of MUM5 kitchen machine*. Attach the beating whisk and beat for a few seconds to break them up. Add the sugar and vanilla extract. Beat on speed 3 and gradually increase to speed 6 for about 3 to 4 minutes till the mixture triple in volume, becomes thick, pale and fluffy. Reduce to speed 4 and continue to beat for about 1 to 2 minutes to break up larger bubbles in the batter. When the whisk attachment is lifted, the mixture should fall and leave a ribbon-like trail.
- Add in the melted chocolate mixture and beat on speed 4 for about 1 minute or until the mixture is thoroughly blended.
- Sieve the flour into the mixing bowl. With a spatula fold in the flour until just incorporated. Do not over mix. Pour batter into the prepared ramekins to about half full.
- Place filled ramekins on a baking tray and bake in middle rack in preheated oven at 200 degC for 10 minutes. Do not over bake. The cakes are deliberately under baked. The cake is ready when the outside edges is set (gently touch the edges, it should feel soft but won't stick to your finger) and the middle still looks a little wet.
- Remove from oven immediately and leave to cool for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve the cakes in the ramekins or alternatively, run a small knife around cakes to loosen. Invert warm cakes onto individual serving plates and carefully lift ramekin off cakes. Dust the top with icing sugar and serve warm with ice cream or berries.
*Note: I used my new Bosch MUM5PRO HomeProfessional Kitchen Machine MUM57830 to prepare the cake batter, read my review of this kitchen mixer here.