If loving a piping hot chocolate lava cake is wrong, I don’t want to be right

Becky Krystal

THE WASHINGTON POST – Almost anything that reaches massive popularity eventually encounters a backlash – it’s too common, it’s too cliche, it’s just not cool anymore.

Case in point: Chocolate lava cake.

Mention this ubiquitous dessert, whose heyday was the ‘80s and ‘90s but is still going strong, and plenty of people will roll their eyes. Perhaps it jumped the shark long before it started showing up on chain restaurant menus or as middle school chorus fundraisers, as I seem to recall. But perhaps I don’t care! Perhaps it’s popular for a reason, or even many reasons!

I’m not ashamed to say I enjoy a personal chocolate cake that comes with a built-in sauce, that can be whipped up and on the table in less than an hour. And made with pantry staples. And is ideal for a special date night at home.

If you can melt chocolate and use a hand mixer, you can make this impressive but shockingly easy dessert. One of the biggest potential sticking points, literally, is getting the cakes out of the ramekins or moulds. Be sure you liberally grease with butter and then dust with cocoa powder. You do not want to see a single speck of uncoated ceramic, so if you end up with a spotty coating, don’t be afraid to clean it out and start again. It’s that important.

Given the speed at which these cook and the variability in ovens, it’s especially important to stay nearby and pay attention.

Chocolate lava cake. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKES FOR TWO

Total time: 40 minutes

Two servings

Make Ahead: Store the ramekins with the unbaked batter in the refrigerator for several hours. Bring back to room temperature before baking.

INGREDIENTS

Four tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into half-inch pieces, plus more for greasing the moulds

Cocoa powder, for dusting

Two ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

One large egg, plus one large egg yolk

Two tablespoons granulated sugar

One teaspoon all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS

Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat 450 degrees.

Generously butter and dust two four-ounce moulds, custard cups or ramekins with cocoa powder, tapping out the excess.

Combine the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan with a few inches of simmering water, ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water, and stir until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Remove the bowl from the pan.

While the chocolate and butter are melting, in a medium bowl, using a whisk or handheld mixer on medium-high, beat together the egg, yolk and sugar until light, thick and pale yellow.

Finish stirring together the chocolate and butter; it should be quite warm. Gradually whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, then quickly beat in the flour by hand, just until combined.

Divide the batter between the moulds.

Transfer the moulds to a baking sheet to make them easy to move in and out of the oven. Bake for eight to 10 minutes – the longer you bake, the less ‘sauce’ there will be. The centre will still be quite soft and slightly dipped, but the sides will be set. Let rest for about a minute.

Place an overturned plate on top of the mould and, holding onto the mould in one hand with a potholder, mitt or dish towel, invert the plate and the mould.

Let sit for about 10 seconds. Unmould by lifting up one side of the mould; the cake will fall out onto the plate. It’s OK if you have to tap or gently shake the ramekin to nudge it out. Serve immediately.

Nutrition | Calories: 470; Total Fat: 40g; Saturated Fat: 24g; Cholesterol: 245mg; Sodium: 40mg; Carbohydrates: 28g; Dietary Fibre: 3g; Sugar: 19g; Protein: 7g.