One of the very first books I got when I first started cooking was Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess. At the time, Nigella wasn’t yet a household name here in the U.S. I used to watch her first show, Nigella Bites, on Style Network (does that even exist anymore?!?). I loved the glimpses into London life and her quirky British sensibilities. She was unabashedly in love with food and it made me want to cook everything she did! One of my favorite recipes from those early days – one that I still make today – is for Molten Chocolate Babycakes. In the book, she refers to them as “the acceptable face of culinary cute” and I couldn’t agree more. They are however, also absolutely delicious.
For our dinner party, we knew that we wanted a dessert that was decadent but could be made ahead of time. After all, we were managing eight courses! I think that’s the genius of these cakes – the batter can be made ahead of time and divided into the ramekins and then refrigerated. They have limited ingredients and require no special equipment other than some baking ramekins and parchment paper. The hardest part of the recipe really is preparing the ramekins! When our guests were finishing up the sixth course, we preheated the oven and popped these little babies in to bake. A short 12-15 minutes later and they were ready, topped with some bourbon brown sugar gelato.
The key to the recipe really is to not over bake them. If you make them ahead of time, you do have to increase the baking time just a few minutes, but err on the side of undercooking them. You want the inside all melty and gooey and rich chocolate goodness. I also recommend serving them with either a good gelato or fresh whipped cream.
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened (plus more for greasing the ramekins)
- 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 large eggs, beaten lightly with a pinch of salt
- 1 generous teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup all purpose flour
- 6 custard cups/ramekins, approximately 6 ounces in size
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and place a baking sheet (empty) in the oven at the same time.
- Using one of your ramekins, trace six circles on a sheet of parchment paper.
- Generously butter the ramekins.
- Cut out the circles, and place them in the bottom of your ramekins.
- Melt the chocolate (I use my microwave! Shhh! Don't tell!) and let it cool slightly.
- In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.
- Gradually beat in the eggs and salt.
- Add in the vanilla and flour.
- When the flour is combined, add in the chocolate and beat gently until smooth.
- Divide the batter between the six cups.
- Place the cups on the preheated baking sheet and quickly place in the oven.
- Bake at 400F for 10 minutes (12 minutes if you made them ahead and refrigerated the batter).
- Remove the cakes from the oven and quickly tip them out onto small plates and top with ice cream, gelato, or whipped cream.