Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dessert for Two

My favorite way to celebrate Valentine's Day is to pull out all the stops and make a delicious as-close-to-gourmet-as-I-ever-get meal that's more expensive and indulgent than our usual fare, and to finish it off with an amazingly impressive and definitely chocolate dessert. I like to wait until the kids are in bed, light the candles and dress the table for an elegant, intimate meal.

Not that I get to do that every year. Sometimes life intervenes, like this year. We will be traveling this weekend to attend my grandfather's memorial service, and won't return until late Sunday. Monday will be spent unpacking from the trip and trying to re-immerse ourselves in the daily grind, so I won't have time to go grocery shopping and I certainly won't be in the frame of mind to pull together a gorgeous meal the following day.

I'll save it for our anniversary later this month.

In the meantime, I'll share with you the dessert I would make if I was making a fabulous Valentine's Day meal this year. This dessert looks impressive, tastes dee-vine, and best of all, takes only 15 minutes of your time. Oh, and it's a whole lot easier than it looks, especially if you make it my way. You'll find vastly more complicated recipes, but they make it way harder than it has to be. Trust me; this is the way to go.

Chocolate Lava Cakes
4 TBSP butter
1/3 cup semi-sweet (or bittersweet) chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)
1 egg
1 egg yolk (freeze the white to use another day)
2 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP flour

Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave, stirring at 20-second intervals. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until it thickens slightly and lightens in color.

Beat in chocolate/butter mixture and flour until well blended and smooth.

 Butter two 6oz ramekins. (I used my fingers to smush the butter into the edges just to be sure the cake would pop out nicely.) Sprinkle cocoa powder to cover the inside.

Divide the batter evenly between the two ramekins. Bake at 425F for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center is still a little "jiggly". (At 8 minutes, mine were probably slightly underdone, but still edible and presentable.)

Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 15 seconds. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake.

Carefully invert the cake onto the dessert plate. Place your dessert plate on top of the ramekin while holding the ramekin in your right hand. (I'm not holding it here because I was taking the picture, but you get the idea!)

Place your left hand on top of the dessert plate...

...and flip so that your right hand is now on top. Set it down on the counter....

...and carefully lift off the ramekin.

And there's your lava cake!

You can garnish your lovely little cakes in a multitude of ways. Here are a few ideas:

  • fresh berries, especially strawberry or raspberry
  • mint leaves
  • a dollop of whipped cream
  • a scoop of ice cream
  • chocolate shavings
  • powdered sugar
I garnished mine with dried coconut strips which is what I had in the cupboard; they turned out beautifully!

What can be QUICKer than 15 minutes? Not much! Besides which, you can make the batter up to a day ahead and bake the cakes right before serving. 

I think you will agree that this is pretty EASY, especially considering how fancy and difficult it looks

Making individual servings like this makes it a CHEAP choice; no waste! I can't tell you how many times I've thrown away cake because we just don't eat it a lot. This is a much better route to go. 

HEALTHY? Well, it's dessert, what can I say? And certainly not the healthiest dessert I've ever come across. You can increase the nutritional value by choosing quality ingredients: dark chocolate, pastured eggs, raw sugar and real butter. I wasn't brave enough to try whole wheat flour, but I bet white whole wheat would work in this recipe. (If you try it let me know! I was afraid it would affect the texture too much.)

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