February is a terrible month. The fun of winter (lights, cookies, Santa, etc.) has long passed but spring still seems so far, far away. I have been lucky enough so far not to experience anything a news team might name "snowmageddon," but winter is still sucking pretty hard right about now.
That's why I, and you, need WARM GOOEY OOZY CHOCOLATEY CHOCOLATE CAKE to make it through. When the cold and dark are bringing you down and you're ready to murder some groundhogs hole up with a valentine and make this and feel better.
Chocolate lava cake is basically nothing more than an undercooked cake. You cook the batter over a water bath before baking so that you can take the cake out of the oven early, before the center is set. You can make the batter ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze it. It's so easy but trust me, people will go apeshit for that lava. Serve it warm out of the oven and VOILA, VALENTINES APLENTY.
If you're not into caramel (in which case you'll never be MY valentine, but that's ok) you can skip that step; you'll just have chocolate instead of caramel lava. Make sure to take them out of the oven when they start to look sunken for maximum goo.
This is the best dessert to eat in bed, according to the chef who demo'd this for our class. Take that as you will.
Chocolate lava cake with salted caramel
I'm not sure exactly how many cakes this yields; I halved the recipe so, approximately half a shit ton.
4 egg yolks
4 whole eggs
7 oz butter
150 g dark chocolate (I used 70%, cause that's how I like it, but anything above 55% will do)
3/4 cup cake flour
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
8 oz sugar
2 oz water
Fleur de sel or other flaky sea salt
-Preheat your oven to 400.
-Make the caramel:
Have an ice bath ready. Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan. Don't stir it! When it reaches a dark blonde (as seen against a white plate...it will look darker in the pot), stick the pot in the ice bath to arrest the cooking. Add an equal amount of heavy cream and stir to combine. It will be a thick sauce-like consistency. Let cool slightly and firm up a bit.
-Spray some molds, flan cups, ramekins, etc. I used a muffin tin which was a bit of a pain to extract the cakes from but it worked OK.
-Melt the butter and chocolate over a water bath.
-Add the yolks and the whole eggs a little at a time, whisking constantly. The mixture will appear to separate and then will come back together. Cook to 170-180 degrees (this ensures the eggs are pasteurized but not overcooked).
-Add the sifted powdered sugar a little at a time.
-Add the sifted flour a little at a time.
-When the mixture is well-incorporated, pour into molds 3/4 full.
-Form the caramel into small truffle-sized balls and sprinkle with fleur de sel.
-Bake the cakes for a few minutes, just until they start to set up a bit and a crust begins to form. Drop a caramel ball into the middle of each one and bake for another few minutes. They will look slightly sunken and underdone-- this is good. All told they'll probably be in the oven for about 10-13 minutes.
-Pop them out of the molds (or fish them out of the muffin tin with a fork) and serve immediately.