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Chocolate Lava Cake, or Warm Soft Chocolate Cake, is an all-time favorite dessert at our home.  It is a brownie-like cake with a warm pudding-like center that oozes out when you cut into it.  For chocolate lovers, this is heaven on a plate.  I must have made this dessert 100+ times over the years, and every guest I’ve served it to has raved hysterically about it.  Trader Joe’s sells them in the freezer case, ready-to-heat.  Just pop them in the oven for 15 minutes, and you have a decadent dessert for special occasions with no effort.

It’s interesting to me that warm soft chocolate cake was invented by mistake, when a baker forgot to put flour in the cake batter.  There’s a lot of dispute about who actually invented this heavenly dessert, but regardless of who it was, I think it’s one of the best mistakes in baking history.

My husband contends that the homemade version is far better than TJ’s frozen ones, and I have to agree that the texture is superior when you make it yourself.  From start to finish, it probably takes the same amount of time to heat the frozen ones (15-17 minutes) as making them yourself (7 minutes in the oven).  The key difference is that with the frozen ones, you can just sit back and read a book while they’re baking, so they get points for low effort.  But when you read the recipe below, I think you’ll agree that making them yourself isn’t so hard!

Either way, I hope you enjoy trying this impressive chocolate dessert!  Serve with fresh fruit and/or vanilla ice cream.
 
Adapted from Jean-George Vongerichten

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, plus extra for buttering the molds
  • 4 oz dark/bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona **
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1/2 tsp hot water (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp flour, plus a little more for dusting the molds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Break up chocolate into 1-inch pieces in a glass mixing bowl.  Cut up butter into chunks and add to the chocolate.  Melt chocolate and butter over a double-boiler or in the microwave (use 30-second intervals, stirring in between) until chocolate is almost completely melted.  Whisk together to distribute heat and melt final pieces of chocolate.
  3. Combine eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and coffee.  Pour egg mixture into melted chocolate and stir well.  Add flour and stir just until combined.  Do not overmix.
  4. Butter 4 (4-oz) ramekins or molds, and dust with flour, shaking out excess.  Divide batter evenly among the molds.
  5. Place ramekins on a baking tray and bake for 7 minutes, or until the sides are set.  The center will be soft and look undercooked.
  6. Wait for 10 seconds before inverting molds onto serving dishes.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4
Prep time: 15 minutes

Notes

Valrhona is widely acknowledged as the premium chocolate bar for bakers.  If you’re making this dessert for a large crowd, Trader Joe’s Pound Plus dark chocolate is an acceptable substitute and offers a great value.