Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chocolate-Espresso Lava Cakes

This dessert has been a staple in my family for the past 10+ years and we decided to make them on New Year's Eve this year.  This is the perfect rich and over indulgent dessert to have on the last day of the year! Plus, with the espresso, they were the perfect pick-me-up to try to keep us awake to ring in the New Year!  I know...it's so lame that I have a hard time staying up that late, but true.

It's a dense cake with a rich chocolate flavor that is intensified by the espresso.  The best part?  The lava!  It has the perfect gooey chocolate center from the melted chocolate chips.

I do like individual desserts and these have to be so everyone has their own portion of molten lava.  You just pile on the chocolate chips in the center of the batter.

Then press them in with the back of a spoon to make sure it melts inside the cake as it bakes.

They puff up a little bit and almost look like chocolate souffles.  But, no, these are rich chocolate cakes that are crispy on the outside edges and filled with hot melted chocolate on the inside. 

Because they are so rich, the addition of the whipped cream is a refreshing way to top it off.  The recipe calls for adding espresso powder to the whipped cream, but I like it plain and just enjoy the addition of the espresso powder in the cake itself. You decide on the whipped cream, but a glass of milk is essential!

Recipe for Chocolate Espresso Lava Cakes

Ingredients for cakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5 t. instant espresso powder (or instant coffee powder)
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. almond extract
12 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips (about 4 1/2 oz.)

Ingredients for whipped cream:
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
3 T. powdered sugar
1 t. espresso powder

Directions for cakes:
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder and baking powder into a medium bowl.  Place the butter in a large bowl; add both sugars and whisk until blended. Whisk in eggs one at a time, then vanilla and almond extracts. Whisk in dry ingredients to wet.  Divide batter among 6-8 greased ovenproof mugs or ramekins and place chocolate chips into the center of each cake and press chips into batter with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate for at least one hour (or up to one day). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cakes uncovered until cakes are puffed and crusty and tester inserted into center comes out with thick batter attached.  Place warm ramekins or mugs on a plate to serve with whipped cream.

Directions for whipped cream:
Combine the cream, powdered sugar and espresso powder in a medium bowl and whisk until peaks form. Spoon a generous dollop on top of the cake!

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