Looking for the perfect fancy-looking dessert to serve for Valentine’s Day, or any special occasion? Let me introduce to this *actually easy* (with a few tips) molten raspberry-chocolate cake that is sure to be a showstopper!I made this three times in 24 hours to get this recipe to the masses before Valentine’s Day! Hey, I’m not complaining…I literally got to “taste-test” 6 molten chocolate cakes in the making of this recipe. After I got through my initial frustration when the first two batches didn’t turn out right, I realized I had basically brownie batter with little cake bits to nibble on while I figured out the secret to making the perfect lava cakes. Let met tell you what happened and how I fixed it…The first batch (cue dramatic music):
I didn’t whip the eggs enough and used 10-ounce ramekins (way too big) so the batter only came halfway up and didn’t puff at all in the oven. I wanted to incorporate raspberries that would sit in the middle of the cakes, but the batter was so stiff that I ended up just putting them in the top (later, would be the bottom) of the cakes. The first flip-out yielded a literal puddle of chocolate as the cake wasn’t set yet. I followed the NY Times recipe as written and baked for only 9 minutes. As I hadn’t turned out the second cake, I returned it to the oven for a few more minutes. The second cake was basically perfect, except that I had placed the raspberries in whole, and they didn’t break down at all and stayed at the top of the cakes. Not what I had in mind!
The second batch (cue sad music):
I made a few adjustments to the original recipe: I chopped and macerated the raspberries to give a more boozy, luxurious texture to the final product. I whipped the egg-sugar mixture until ribbon stage, which gave me much more puff in the oven and added a little more flour to the batter to help it set. I used 6-ounce ramekins and coated with softened butter and a layer of sugar to help when it was time to turn them out.
Welllll, they definitely looked great when they came out of the oven but WOULD NOT COME OUT OF THE RAMEKINS. I turned them out and half of the cakes came out, resulting in a puddle of chocolate with half the cake left in the ramekins. I was very sad. I immediately washed everything and got back to it!
The third batch (cue happy music because they worked!):
I chopped and macerated the berries again and used the same amount of flour. However, this time I coated the ramekins in butter and a light dusting of flour, then sprayed a little Baker’s Joy nonstick spray to absolutely ensure they would come out. Then I mastered the flip-over with a thin spatula, pot holder, paper towel and tongs…annoying to have to use this many items, but it worked! Just make sure to eat them ASAP so the molten batter inside doesn’t overcook.
Learn from my mistakes and use these tips to ensure success when you make these at home!
- Generously grease your ramekins with butter and a light coating of flour. Use nonstick cooking spray (such as Baker’s Joy) to ensure they come out. Use 6-ounce ramekins to ensure you have the right size.
- Make sure to whip your eggs until pale, fluffy, thickened and at the ribbon stage. It will take about 2 minutes with a handheld mixer. The eggs should fall back on themselves like a ribbon when you lift the beaters.
- Gently fold everything together to ensure you don’t deflate your eggs.
- DO NOT OVERBAKE! Cardinal sin number 1 in chocolate lava cake-making. The outside should be just set so it holds when you turn the cakes out, but you should still see a little jiggle if you gently shake the ramekins. Remember, the cake continues to cook after you remove it from the oven, so you want to time them perfectly and eat them as soon as possible!
- Use a thin metal spatula to remove the hot ramekins from the baking sheet, then transfer to a pot holder. Flip over on serving plates and allow to sit for a few seconds so gravity can gently pull the cakes out. Place a paper towel over the ramekin (for traction) and use spring-loaded tongs to pull the ramekin off the cake in one motion. It’s annoying, but it works!
- Also, you can easily scale this recipe up to serve 4 or 6 if desired!
What is it about chocolate that is so sexy and romantic? The shiny, dark, oozy moltenness of it? The taste? I don’t know, but whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not, this dessert is my boo.