Whether treating yourself or cooking for loved ones this Valentine’s Day, avoid the crowds and make a restaurant-worthy dinner at home. Perhaps a rich melted raclette, après-ski-style, or a bubbling casserole of Alaska crab mac and cheese? For main courses, miso-glazed Alaska sablefish or a perfectly seared cast-iron steak with paprika oven fries? For dessert, you could go lighter with prosecco grapes or vegan lemon sorbet.
But if chocolate is the way to someone’s heart (including your own), try a dark chocolate pudding with sea salt or this very easy to make but impressive dessert that’s a nod to the ’80s. Molten lava cakes are almost always a hit. Not quite a pudding, not quite a cake, it’s important to slightly under bake these in order for the surprise hot “lava” center to ooze out. Serve with whipped cream spiked with cinnamon or cardamom, or good vanilla ice cream. The cakes can also be made ahead and baked just before serving. With these menu options, the best VIP table can be your very own.
Molten lava cakes
Makes 6 servings
8 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks (reserve whites for another use)
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar (4 ounces)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (2.5 ounces)
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Serving suggestions: vanilla ice cream; cinnamon or cardamom whipped cream; vanilla crème anglaise
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Thoroughly butter six (¼-cup) ramekins or custard cups and place on a baking sheet.
Place chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan, set over medium heat and stir until melted and smooth. (Alternatively, combine in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second blasts, stirring in between, until melted and smooth.) Set aside to cool slightly.
Whisk eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl to blend. Whisk in sugar, vanilla and salt until thick and foamy. Whisk in flour until smooth. Using a spatula, add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and stir just until combined. Divide evenly among ramekins. (Note: You can make one day ahead; cover and chill.)
Place baking sheet with ramekins in oven. Bake until sides are set but center is still soft and runny when lightly pressed, about 11 minutes, or up to 14 minutes if batter was made ahead and is cold out of the refrigerator. Run a small knife around cakes to loosen and carefully invert onto a plate. Use an oven mitt to remove ramekin. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.