Deputy Editor Mary Clare Greenlees got immensely bored Friday night, so she decided to walk to the 93rd Street Trader Joe’s and stop by TJMaxx with the sole purpose of making real Chocolate Lava Cakes. And with a combined prep and cook time of 30 minutes, what’s not to love? 

While on a quest to find the perfect bread (Challah, Brioche, Wheat, you name it), I couldn’t help but take a gander into the “dessert” and “for one” filters to see what sweet treat I could make on a lonely Friday night. This creation was inspired by the NYT Cooking (highly recommend btw) recipe. It took around 30 minutes from turning the oven on to fully made Lava Cakes, but remember to budget in time later for cleaning all those dirty dishes.

Ingredients (the recipe is TECHNICALLY for two people, but I think this is easily a one-person dessert):  3 tablespoons of granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, around half a cup of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chunks (if you can avoid it, don’t get chips since there are stabilizers in them that can mess with the texture), ~3 tablespoons of unsalted butter.

Tools: 10-ounce ramekin (however, because I am a fool who has no sense of scale, I used one 8 ounce ramekin and one 6 ounce ramekin, I will put adjusted cooking times as needed), whisk, spatula, small-medium mixing bowl, microwave-safe bowl, butter knife.

  1. Set your oven to 425 and put your butter on the counter to bring it closer to room temperature.
  2. Start with your ganache mixture (where all the magic happens!). The lazy way to do this (the way I enjoy) is by using the microwave, place your half cup of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chunks/shavings in a microwave-safe bowl, I used a pyrex measure cup along with 3 tablespoons of butter. Microwave at thirty-second intervals a stir intermittently until the entire mixture is melted and combined.
  3. After putting the ganache off to the side to cool down, combine your egg, egg yolk*, 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract into your mixing bowl. Whisk these together until its a frothy, foamy consistency.
  4. Then, add your 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour into the mix and whisk until the flour has been fully incorporated and the mixture is completely smooth.
  5. Time to introduce the ganache into the game! Pour it into the mixing bowl and use a spatula to fold’ the ganache into the other ingredients. Be careful not to overfold, only mix until you no longer see streaks of either chocolate or yellow egg mixture, overfolding can result in creating a denser cake, which is not what we want!
  6. Use a bit of butter to grease your ramekin(s), this makes it so they come out nice and easy when they are done baking. Once greased, sprinkle granulated sugar into the ramekin, just enough so that there is a thin coating.
  7. Pour mixture into the ramekin(s), leave room for the cake to rise (which it will!). Using your finger, trace along the outer rim of the ramekin and make a small divot in the batter along the sides, this is supposed to help with the rise and making sure it doesn’t overflow.
  8. Place the ramekin(s) in the oven closest to the middle of the oven as you can manage (Note: I decided to put my ramekins on a baking tray so that it was easier to slip them in and out of the oven).
  9. Time to wait! Here’s where the cooking times vary. For a 10-ounce ramekin, leave it in the oven for approximately 12-14 minutes, as to make sure the outer shell cooks, yet the inner is lovely and gooey. For an 8-ounce ramekin, leave it in for 12 minutes. And for the 6-ounce ramekin leave it in for ~10 minutes (at your discretion, I made the mistake of leaving it in for 12 and it cooked ALL the way through, whoops).
  10. Mini-step: Fill the mixing bowl with hot water and let your whisk, spatula, bowls, etc. soak in the water so that they are easier to clean later!
  11. Using oven mitts/a towel (I miss my parent’s Ove’ Glove desperately, I took it for granted, and now it has been taken from me!), remove the ramekins from the oven and set it on the stove for one minute to cool down just a bit. While it’s cooling down, using a knife, cut around the edges of the cake so that it will easily detach when flipped.
  12. With your oven mitts still on, hold the ramekin in your hand and cover the top with a plate. And, using both hands, carefully flip the plate so that the plate is now on the bottom and the ramekin is resting on it. Place the plate on the counter and use both hands (WITH OVEN MITTS STILL ON), lift the ramekin so that your lava cake will stay on the plate.
  13. Serve immediately! The traditional route is to sprinkle confectioner’s sugar on top (I did not because I did not want to buy confectioners sugar), you can also serve with a nice scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. (Author’s note: I would recommend drinking milk with this as you will be thirsty after eating this rich dessert)

Did I set off our smoke detector twice while making these for the first time? Perhaps. Was it worth frantically fanning in front of the detector to make it stop? Absolutely! It was really fun to make and it felt really good to have a dessert I made from scratch taste good. It’s a great activity to do by yourself, BUT it also can be a fun thing to do with your friends to bond over smoke detectors, chocolate, and probably not doing the physics homework that’s due.

*You can separate the yolks by cracking the egg on a flat surface and then over the sink passing the yolk between the halves of the shell until only the yolk is left.

oozy goodness via Mary Clare Greenlees