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Make a Decadent Dessert for Your Valentine

What are you making your Valentine this coming Valentine’s Day? I’m making chocolate lava cake. My husband absolutely loves this dessert; and to surprise him, I have been practicing making it until it’s just the way he likes it—warm, dark chocolate flowing from delicious chocolate cake. This recipe is easy to make, and hands-on time is about 20 minutes. Don’t let its presentation scare you. According to Food & Wine Magazine, master chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten created the first chocolate lava cake. Many restaurants have Chocolate Lava Cake on their menus, and other chefs and television personalities have their own version. I’ve studied them all and have combined the best of all the recipes.

Served straight from the oven, there is nothing more indulgent than this chocolatey dessert; and if you scoop cold ice cream next to the warm cake, the ice cream melts into the cake. I added 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier to the chocolate, giving it a hint of Cognac and orange. You can customize the flavor of your lava cakes to suit your Valentine’s palate by using flavored liqueurs. To add a nutty flavor, try Frangelico for a hazelnut flavor; amaretto, which has an almond taste; or Nocello, with a walnut flavor.  For a fruity flavor, try Chambord, with its intense raspberry flavor; Cointreau, which has an orange flavor; or Cherry Heering, with a black cherry flavor. When I shopped at the liquor store for a liqueur, the salesperson even suggested peanut-butter-flavored whiskey. Use 2 tablespoons of the liqueur you choose.

Chocolate Lava Cakes Makes 4 Cakes

It’s important to spray or butter the ramekins you use. It helps the cakes slip out easily. You can use either cocoa powder or flour to flour the ramekins, however, flour may leave a white residue on your cakes. If you don’t have cocoa powder, don’t worry. Sifting powdered sugar over your finished cakes will hide the flour residue. If you don’t have ramekins, you can use your muffin pan. If using muffin pans, this recipe will yield 6 cakes, and baking time will be 8 to 10 minutes. You will need to use a spoon to release the cakes from the pan before placing them upside down on dessert plates.

Baking spray for spraying custard cups or Butter for buttering custard cups Cocoa powder or flour for dusting custard cups 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick) 2 eggs (both yolks and whites) 2 egg yolks ¼ cup granulated sugar Pinch of salt 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 tablespoons flour

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray four ramekins with baking spray (or grease the sides and bottoms with butter) and lightly dust with cocoa powder or flour. Place ramekins on a baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, coarsely chop chocolate and butter. In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter over simmering water. In a medium bowl, place eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and salt and using an electric mixer, beat at a high speed until yolks are thickened and pale. Add Grand Marnier and vanilla extract and stir to combine.

Whisk the chocolate mixture until smooth. Quickly fold the chocolate mixture and flour into the egg mixture and continue to fold until well combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins and bake for 12 minutes, or until the sides are firm and the centers are soft.

Remove the ramekins from the oven and let stand 1 minute. Cover each ramekin with an inverted dessert plate and carefully turn the ramekins over. Let stand 10 seconds and then gently shake the ramekins, releasing the cakes onto the dessert plates. The cakes should slide right out.

To serve and for the garnish: Confectioner’s sugar Ice cream, your favorite flavor (I use vanilla) Chocolate syrup for drizzling Fresh berries Mint sprigs

Using a sifter, lightly sprinkle cakes with confectioner’s sugar. Place a scoop of ice cream next to the warm cake and drizzle ice cream with chocolate syrup. Garnish with your favorite fresh berries and a sprig of mint.

Shopping for chocolate: Use high-quality bars of baking chocolate like Baker’s®, Ghirardelli®, Nestle®, Lindt®, or Valrhona®. I did experiment with chocolate chips and didn’t get as much “lava”. I like Ghirardelli® chocolate, and it is normally available in the supermarket.

Make ahead tips: You can make the batter ahead and refrigerate it up to 2 days. Bring it to room temperature and stir before placing it in the ramekins.

Carol Ann

Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Insider Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at and explore her website,

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Carol Ann Kates

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