I clearly never got over the '90s, because I still love Portishead, chunky shoes and especially lava cakes. While the magic trick of a dessert that oozes like a 7th-grade science project no longer carries the novelty it did in the Clinton era, I forever find it irresistible. Add a side of ice cream or whipped cream — and you've got the perfect combination of flavors, textures and temperatures.
Though lava cakes usually evoke restaurants and something served on a big white plate with a mint leaf, I regularly make my own takes on the theme at home. Maybe it's an old-fashioned hot chocolate cake, or maybe it's a single serving mug cake. The idea remains: If you make it cakey on the outside and gooey on the inside, you won't be disappointed.
For a more spiffed-up variation, I love Florencia Courreges' easy molten dulce de leche cakes. They're a clever change from the traditional chocolate, come together in a snap and really deliver on the ta-da factor. In fact, they seem so posh that you might feel a tiny bit gauche when you inevitably lick the plate.
Because these need to be served immediately, you can make the batter and fill the ramekins ahead of time to keep in the fridge until you're ready to bake. Either bring them to room temperature while you're enjoying dinner or allow an extra minute or two in the oven if baking straight from the fridge. (This also means you can make these for a romantic dinner for two, three times over.)
I'm giving you options here for baking these in a muffin pan because I think you deserve lava cakes — even if you don't happen to own a set of ramekins.
Recipe: Dulce de Leche Lave Cakes
Inspired by Florencia Courreges for Bon Appétit
- Softened butter
- 2 1/2 tablespoons flour, plus more flour for the tins
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 egg
- 1 13-oz. can dulce de leche
- Optional: ice cream or whipped cream
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Generously butter and flour either a 6-cup muffin tin or 6 ramekins. Place on a baking sheet.
- In a blender, or using a bowl and electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and egg until doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. (I'm not kidding here! Don't get impatient.)
- Add the dulce de leche and beat until blended, then gradually add the flour until well blended.
- Pour the batter evenly into the tins or ramekins.
- Bake until the cakes are browned but still jiggly, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven.
- Let cool just a minute, then run a knife along the edges of each cake to loosen. If using ramekins, gently unmold onto individual plates or bowls. If using a muffin tin, have a sheet pan ready. Place the pan over the tin and gently flip over to unmold the cakes, then use a wide spatula to plate them.
- Serve immediately with whipped cream or ice cream.
Use the leftover egg whites to make my three-ingredient meringues!
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More of our favorite desserts:
- The simple cherry yogurt cake that reminds pastry chef Dominique Ansel of his French childhood
- A 1930s whipping cream cake is the internet's latest favorite recipe
- The Basque burnt cheesecake that Nigella Lawson can't stop baking is incredibly easy to make
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