If you’re looking for the chocolate dessert to serve on Valentine’s Day—here you go. Velvety and smooth on the inside, moist on the outside, saturated with rich chocolate throughout, this recipe defines decadent. But it’s not hard to make. And it doesn’t take forever either (not to mention you can make it a day or two ahead).

There are a few tricks to getting this recipe right. See molten cakes are almost like a cross between a custard and a cheesecake (uh, both chocolate). So they don’t cook quite like a cake would where you need to make sure that it’s done all the way through. But I need to take a step back before we get to the baking.

Prepping your ramekins (custard cups). You’ll need to coat the inside of the ramekins with baking spray (or you could brush with melted butter) and then add about 1 teaspoon of flour. Move the flour around the inside until its coated. This is exactly like flouring a bread pan but it gets trickier when it’s a 4-ounce cup! Now you can do this with muffin tins, I’m told. I haven’t tried it that way, but if you don’t have ramekins, that’s an option. This is the hardest part of the whole recipe.

Here’s the second hardest: figuring out when the cakes are done. Like a cheesecake, when you check for doneness you want the center to just jiggle. If the batter appears completely solid you won’t have the gooey chocolate center that makes molten cakes, well, molten.

Okay, I take that back, there’s one more hard part (promise, once you get the hang of this the recipe isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds). You have a few options with taking the cake out of the ramekin. Here’s what I do. I run a kitchen knife around the outside of the ramekin and then place the serving plate on top of it. Jiggle, then lift the ramekin. If the cake doesn’t seem to be releasing or it’s not releasing altogether, I try to put everything back into the ramekin, top it with whip cream and call it good. Or you can put the ramekin in the fridge for a while and then try inverting again. You can keep the dessert cold or put it in the microwave for 9 seconds.

Ready to start melting some chocolate? This recipe won’t disappoint.

Recipe

Prep time: 20 minutes + 10 minutes baking

Servings: 4

Ingredients

8 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons flour

4 ounces chocolate (bittersweet is best but semi-sweet works too)

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

¼ sugar

½ teaspoon espresso powder (opt.)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Lightly coat four, four-ounce ramekins with baking spray. Then place a small amount of flour in each one and make sure that the flour then coats the inside of the ramekin completely. Alternatively, you can use a muffin tin, but follow the same process.
  3. In a glass measuring cup or bowl, melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave (I usually set it for 60 seconds and then stir vigorously).
  4. In a medium-sized mixing bowl beat the eggs and egg yolks on high for around three minutes or until they start to become thick.
  5. Add the sugar into the eggs and continue beating about three more minutes (the mixture will lighten slightly in color).
  6. Blend the eggs into the cooled chocolate mixture. Beat for about two more minutes.
  7. Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet.
  8. Pour equal parts of the chocolate mixture into each of the ramekins.
  9. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the chocolate barely jiggles on the center portion of each ramekin.
  10. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.
  11. At this point, you can either serve the chocolate cakes in the ramekins, or you can run a kitchen knife around the outside and invert onto a plate. You can also place the ramekins in the refrigerator and serve later cold or reheat for 10 seconds and then serve topped with whipped cream and dusted with cocoa powder.

Warning: These are rich!

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