Chocolate Lava Cakes – Overthinking Classics

Chocolate Lava Cakes
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Well, this recipe almost killed me. When I embarked on this journey, I thought this little classic cake would be a walk in the park but I was totally and completely wrong. I overthought this until I forgot my own name. I felt very unsure of every choice I made along the way and my freezer is full of failure cakes. But in the end, I emerged victorious with this beauty in tow. These are the best Chocolate Lava Cakes I’ve ever had and I’m not going to shy away from tooting my own horn over this one because, man, I fought for this. So without further ado, let’s dig into these sweet treats.

When I started planning my content for in and around Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d play it safe and trot out a simple and frankly predictable crowd-pleaser. The internet is full to bursting with Chocolate Lava Cakes, so I figured they must be simple to pull off. So I penciled the Chocolate Lava Cake in as the next subject of my ongoing series Overthinking Classics. When I started my research, I found myself confused. You see, I had an idea of what I would find before I set off on this journey.

Chocolate Lava Cakes

I, like many food obsessives, saw the 2014 movie Chef and in that movie, there is a chocolate lava cake scene that mentions that the center of the cake is ganache. It’s not just an underdone cake. So I thought that’s what a proper Chocolate Lava Cake was and that’s what I expected to find. I did not find any evidence of that. Most recipes we’re a hybrid of an underbaked chocolate souffle and a chocolate cake. But I couldn’t get the ganache concept out of my head, so I wound up going against the entire premise of this series and went the ganache route.

I like the ganache approach because it gives you the opportunity to inject more flavor into your cakes. You can stir just about anything into a ganache, so the flavor possibilities are endless. This particular Chocolate Lava Cake sports a crème fraîche dark chocolate ganache center accented with a splash of Chambord. But a ganache center also comes with its problems. And the first problem I encountered was how to ensure the ganache flowed. That meant I needed to get the cream to chocolate ratio spot on and I had to cook the cakes to just the right temperature. I failed at getting both of these variables right more times than I care to say.

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Then there is the actual cake portion. You have to bake the cake long enough, so it actually cakes. But if you bake it too long, the ganache center sort of curdles. It’s actually pretty unappetizing. But eventually, I found that 375 F for 25 minutes was the sweet spot. And so I dusted my successful cakes with icing sugar, finished them with a dollop of crème fraîche, raspberries, and mint. And put this dessert to bed. I’m so happy to share this recipe with you, almost as happy as I am to be done with it. I will be eating my failure cakes until June, however. So that should keep me good and humble.

If you have anymore inquiries regarding these godforsaken cakes, the chick in the video below will probably answer them. And if she looks a little tired, you now know why.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Chocolate Lava Cakes

These decadent Chocolate Lava Cakes feature a rich-brownie-like cake with a gooey Chambord-spiked crème fraîche ganache center.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Chilling Time 1 hr
Course Dessert
Servings 4

Equipment

  • 4 1/2 cup ramekins
  • 1 small saucepan
  • 1 large heatproof bowl
  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • 1 ice cream scoop
  • 1 small offset spatula

Ingredients
  

Dark Chocolate Crème Fraîche

  • 115g (4oz) dark chocolate (60% or higher) finely chopped
  • ¼ cup creme fraiche
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 oz Chambord

Chocolate Lava Cakes

  • 240g (8oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 7 tbsp unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 batch Dark Chocolate Crème Fraîche Ganache see above
  • icing sugar for dusting
  • Additional crème fraîche for serving
  • fresh raspberries for serving
  • fresh mint leaves for serving

Instructions
 

For the Ganache

  • Fill a small saucepan about 1/3 of the way full with water. Place over high heat. Fit a heatproof bowl over the mouth of the pot.** Add your chocolate and stir occasionally until it melts.
    115g (4oz) dark chocolate (60% or higher)
  • Once your chocolate is melted, switch to a whisk and whisk in the crème fraîche, heavy cream, salt, and the Chambord. Cover your ganache and transfer it to the fridge. Chill for an hour or until scoop-able. 
    ¼ cup creme fraiche, ¼ cup heavy cream, ½ tsp kosher salt, 1 oz Chambord

For the Lava Cakes

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F. Grease 4 1/2 cup ramekins very thoroughly with butter and dust with cocoa. Place them on a small baking sheet and set them aside.
  • Place the semi-sweet chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Add the unsalted butter and place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and stir occasionally until the butter and chocolate melt into each other to form a cohesive, smooth mixture. 
    240g (8oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips, 7 tbsp unsalted butter
  • While you’re waiting for the chocolate to melt, pour the granulated sugar into a large bowl. Add the yolks, eggs, and salt. Whisk until frothy.
    ⅓ cup granulated sugar, 2 large egg yolks, 2 large eggs, ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • Once the chocolate has melted, take it off of the heat and pour it into the egg mixture. Whisk as quickly as you can to prevent the eggs from cooking. Once the chocolate is well integrated, whisk in the flour.
    4 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Take the ganache out of the fridge and retrieve your greased ramekins. Using an ice cream scoop, place a scoop of cake batter into the bottom of each ramekin. Place one tablespoon of the ganache in the center of and top with another scoop of the batter. Using a small offset spatula, smooth the surface. Transfer the ramekins to the oven and bake for 25 minutes. 
    1 batch Dark Chocolate Crème Fraîche Ganache
  • When your cakes are done, take them out of the oven and let them sit for a minute or two to settle. *** Run an offset spatula carefully around the sides of the cake. Place the ramekin on a tea towel and place a small plate on top. Invert the ramekin onto the plate and carefully remove it. Dust the Chocolate Lava Cakes with icing sugar and garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche, fresh raspberries, and mint. Serve immediately.
    icing sugar, Additional crème fraîche, fresh raspberries, fresh mint leaves

Notes

** You want a bowl small enough to form a seal along the lip of the pot and large enough to not touch the surface of the simmering water. We want about an inch or two of space between the bowl and the water. You want the water to be at a spirited simmer throughout the melting process. If it comes to a hard boil, reduce the heat and stir clear of any escaping steam.
*** Don’t leave the cakes too long. You want to serve them while they’re still liquid in the center. So make sure you have your garnishes at the ready.
Keyword Chambord, creme fraiche, dark chocolate, raspberries

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