I always made my children and hubs a special dinner and dessert for Valentine’s Day. I loved how excited the kids were when they came home from school knowing that they would enjoy a “fancy” meal and something sweet afterwards. We never had a regular tradition of dessert after dinner. If my kids were hungry, I’d cut them up some fruit. But no one wondered where the cake or ice cream was every night.
So Valentine’s Day dessert was a big deal and it was always more special than just a bowl of ice cream. Most of the time I made flourless chocolate cakes with raspberry sauce. But there were years when I made an apple pie (of course I cut hearts from the top crust) or a berry crisp with homemade ice cream. One year recently I made my chocolate bundt cake with chocolate ganache. Oh my stars, divine!
In one of my holiday classes over a year ago, I taught these molten chocolate cakes, also known as chocolate lava cakes because the inside of the cakes is soft and pools out onto the plate. My misconception about molten cakes is that they were really tricky to make. I mean, how do you get the outside to be cake-like and the inside to be the consistency of pudding??
Guess what?? There is no magic required. These cakes are EASY!!! And you can make the batter ahead!! The key is making sure you don’t over cook them. Once the cake is set on the outside, they’re done! And honestly, if you mess up and cook them through (which I did on several test runs), they’re still 100% delicious and super chocolate-y, almost like a brownie! I have made the straight-up chocolate version and a peppermint version which is fun for the winter holidays.
For those of you trying to avoid cane sugar, I have successfully made these with maple sugar and coconut sugar. I have also made a grain-free/gluten-free version as well. Check the recipe below for the details. I know restaurants often serve molten chocolate cakes with whipped cream or ice cream to “break up” all the chocolate. But I do think that puts an already rich dessert over the top. I like dusting these cakes instead with powdered sugar and serving them with fresh berries or a fresh berry sauce on the side. I also love the fact that each cake is a single serving. That helps me avoid dipping back into the trough for more or slicing a little more from a larger cake. Who’s with me??
Whereas I wouldn’t call this (or any dessert) health food, if you use high quality ingredients, you’ll be much better off than with something made at a commercial bakery or restaurant. Organic really matters with respect to sugar, butter and flour!!
If you make these lovely little cakes, take a picture and tag me so I can see them. @pamelasalzman #pamelasalzman You’ll just make my day and I’ll repost the image!! Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you all!! XOXO
You can shop the tools I used for this recipe by clicking on the images below:
- 12 Tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter + additional for greasing ramekins
- 9 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 3 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- 6 Tablespoons cane sugar, coconut sugar or maple sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or ¼ teaspoon pure peppermint extract (for a mint flavor)
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour OR 1 ½ Tablespoons fine blanched almond flour + 1 ½ Tablespoons tapioca flour/starch, plus additional for flouring ramekins
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter and lightly flour (with all purpose flour or tapioca flour) 6 6-ounce ramekins. Turn the ramekins upside down and tap to release excess flour. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet.
- In a double boiler or heatproof bowl set atop a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate and whisk until combined.
- With a mixer, beat the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla or peppermint extract at high speed until thickened and lighter in color.
- Lower the speed down to medium, and slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Then add the flour until just combined. At this point the batter can be prepared several hours in advance and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking. Or leave at room temperature for up to two hours.
- Transfer the batter into a cup with a lip and evenly pour the batter into the prepared ramekins. Bake for 12-13 minutes, or until the sides of the cakes are firm, but the centers are still soft.*
- Allow the cakes to cool in the ramekins for 1 minute. Run a thin knife around the edge of each ramekin. Cover each with a dessert plate and carefully flip over and unmold. Serve immediately.
*This will be different in different ovens and vary depending on what type of material your ramekins are made of. Cast iron seems to work more quickly. The point is - check them early.
What is your favorite bittersweet chocolate you prefer to use ?
There are lots of good brands! a bar is better than chips, but use what you have. Hu, Equal Exchange, even the organic chocolate bars from Trader Joe’s are great
Can’t wait to try this! Do you have a recommendation for where to get these ramekins?
I have 8 ounce ramekins but not 6. Would it be ok to use those?
sure, but the cakes will be thinner and will take less time to cook. I bought the ramekins at Williams-Sonoma. 🙂
I made these for Valentine’s Day dinner for my son and husband. I was doubtful they would work, but they turned out amazingly well. The recipe was really easy too, so that was a great surprise. My son said this is his new “birthday” request for his dessert going forward. Really special treat without a lot of expense or effort.
Thanks so much for sharing the recipe.
I know, I was skeptical too!! I am so glad they worked out for you!
It looks really great. I want to do this. Thanks.
Hi Pamela, I love that this doesn’t have massive amounts of sugar. Is there an easy way to scale this down for 2 people?
Easy! Just divide all the ingredients by 3 which is very straightforward since they can all be easily divided by 3. 🙂
Thank you! Would you keep the 1/4 t salt and 1t vanilla as is or reduce those, too?
Is there any way to make these vegan? Thank you!
You can try swapping aquafaba beaten until the consistency of whipped egg whites. 1/4 cup per egg. Swap your favorite vegan butter for the butter and use vegan chocolate. I have no idea how these will turn out, but I think it’s worth a try!
Hi Honey!! Can I make these in the am and then bake at dinnertime!!!
Hi Pamela, i’m gonna make this for sur, but I only need to serve 2 people, can I freeze the batter for future use?
Not sure about that. I would just divide all the ingredients by 3.
I look forward to making these for my husband and daughter for Valentine’s Day. Are you indifferent between using natural Cane Sugar and Turbinado Raw Cane Sugar?
They’re both cane sugar, so go right ahead!
Thank you! They were absolutely delicious and so easy to make! A keeper for sure!
I’m delighted to hear that! Thanks for your feedback 🙂