This amazing recipe is adapted from the Junior League cookbook from my hometown, Birmingham, AL. It’s called Tables of Content and it is full of great local recipes. Birmingham has a foodie culture that started thriving a few years back when local chefs like Frank Stitt and Chris Hastings began gaining national recognition. Anyways, this recipe is the bomb!
A quick note on chocolate types: this recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate. After several trips to the grocery store, I confirmed that I was extremely confused when it comes to different types of chocolate and cocoa percentages. According to most of what I have read, the term “bittersweet” seems to refer to a massive range of cocoa percentages (from about 30-90%). What most of us have in our pantries is milk chocolate for snacking or unsweetened chocolate for baking.
Both of those are big no-nos for this recipe! If milk or white chocolate is used (cocoa percentages below 30) the fat and high sugar content in the chocolate will not melt properly and not only will the resulting cakes be way too sweet, but they may not even have that delicious, liquid lava center! The ubiquitous semi-sweet chips, while confusingly named, are within the range of good cocoa percentages.
To sum up: Do use chocolate labelled bittersweet, semi-sweet, or dark, and anything with a cocoa percentage above 35. Don’t use unsweetened chocolate, milk chocolate, or white chocolate.
Mini Chocolate Lava Cakes
Serves about 8, in mini ramekins
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 sticks salted butter
3 egg yolks (save the whites, they’ll make a super healthy omelette!)
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons AP flour
extra butter and cocoa powder for greasing ramekins
Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat. Stir it with a rubber spatula to keep the chocolate from burning.
It helps to let the butter melt a bit first before putting the chocolate in, that way the chocolate does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring it over low heat until all is melted and you basically have a giant amazing pot of liquid chocolate. Then, set this pot aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar thoroughly with a whisk or fork. This will take a while (it took me a little under 5 minutes to do it manually), but keep stirring until they get whiter in color and foamy on top. Add in the vanilla and salt and stir it up again.
Coat six small ramekins with butter and cocoa powder. If you don’t have ramekins, you can definitely use any other oven-proof dish. I like the small ramekins because they are perfect for individually sized servings and I use them all the time for serving fruit and for sauces (hint hint if you don’t have them you want them).
Bake them in the oven for 10-15 minutes. You want to take them out while the centers are still jiggly but the edges are cooked and seem to have detached from the side of the ramekins. It will seem like they are not all the way cooked, but if you leave them in longer, they won’t have any ‘lava’ inside!
Garnish them with whipped cream, raspberries, or mint and enjoy!
P.S. I know it is super annoying to let 3 egg whites go to waste, so put them in an air-tight container and save them for a delicious egg white omelette or scramble! If you’re in the mood for a good, 1-serving scramble, try this!