There was a time when molten lava cake was all the rage. Fancy restaurants served it – it wasn’t really something people made at home. Then recipes were published and it became a standard dinner party dessert. Like many things culinary though, it fell out of fashion, and though everyone still loved it, it was a little embarrassing to serve it. Those pioneering restaurants took it off the menu, because it made them seem old-fashioned. The idea has the occasional resurgence with different flavor variations, but it really should remain a staple. It is simple to make for such an elegant presentation. I always think individual desserts are special. And best of all, it can easily be made ahead. Just pop them in the fridge until you are ready to bake. Add a jolt of peppermint flavor and you have a perfect Christmas treat.
Chocolate bars melt smoother and is better than using chocolate chips, so grab a few bars (Ghiradelli or Scharffen Berger are nice). Chop the bars up with a knife so they melt evenly with the butter. When cooking these, timing is important. The goal is to have a nice, oozing chocolate center surrounded by tender cake. But if your cakes do not ooze, don’t fret or think the day is ruined. They are still delicious little individual chocolate peppermint delights. I love to decorate these with shards of broken peppermints and a nice lovely peppermint ball on the top – sometimes I add some edible glitter to the mix. I’ve included a short recipe for a peppermint whipped cream which makes a nice accompaniment too. Go all out – its’ the holidays!
Chocolate Peppermint Molten Cakes
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
10 Tablespoons butter
Pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
Peppermint candies, crushed
- Peppermint Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup round peppermint candies
- Spray six 8-ounce ramekins with baking spray, such as Bakers Joy.
- Choose a glass or metal bowl that sits tightly on the top of a medium pan without touching the bottom. Put about an inch of water in the pot, not touching the bottom of the bowl, and bring it to a simmer. Place the chocolate and butter in the bowl and place over the water. Stir until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. Remove the pan from the pot, stir in the peppermint extract and the salt and leave to cool to room temperature.
- Beat the eggs and egg yolks together in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until thick and pale in color, at least 3 minutes on medium high. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar until well combined and smooth. Add the melted chocolate mixture and the flour and beat on low just until combined.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the ramekins, smoothing the tops with the back of a spoon. The cakes can be baked immediately or covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for one day.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet, leaving space for air to circulate between them. Bake for 12 minutes (13 if they have been made ahead and are coming from the fridge. The edges should be set and the top of each cake should be soft when touched. Remember, the point here is the oozing middle, so timing is important. Remove from the oven and let rest for a minute or two. You can serve them in the ramekins, or gently turn each cake out onto a small plate. Dust with powdered sugar, or crushed peppermint candies. Serve with a dollop of peppermint whipped cream if desired.
- Peppermint Whipped Cream
- Unwrap the candies and place in a ziptop bag. Bash a few times with a rolling pin to break them up, then put them in a high-powered blender of a food processor and grind to a fine powder.
- Put the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pour in the cream and turn the mixer on high. Drizzle in 4 Tablespoons of the crushed peppermints and whip until stiff peaks form.