This looks luxurious and impressive, but it’s only 6 ingredients and so easy to make. It takes just over 5 minutes to prepare to pop into the oven – it’s insane! The peanut butter filling is optional. I go nuts over peanut-butter anything, but you can easily just leave it out!
“The sight of the peanut butter and chocolate oozing out of the cake makes me weak in the knees.”
I don’t bake sweet things much. So when I do share a dessert recipe, you can be assured of two things:
1. It’s really easy; and
2. It is worth the effort to make.
This lava cake knocks it out of the park on both counts. I used to see photos of lava cakes in gourmet magazines and just assume it was too hard. But then I was tasked with making dessert for a family dinner and a lava cake was specifically requested by someone. I was rather unenthusiastic when I started searching for recipes because I was sure it was going to require a lot of effort and science because surely a dessert that looks this impressive has to be annoyingly tedious to make. Right?
“The batter for this can be made ahead which makes this a sensational desert for a fancy schmancy dinner party!”
So you already know the ending to that mini story – that I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was in fact ridiculously easy to make, and of the 15 times or so that I’ve made it since, it has never failed. Every time I make it, I almost expect it to fail and so I get really excited when I cut into it and the “molten” centre oozes out.
I think that’s partly why I love this. The thrill of anticipation. The element of danger (ok, not danger. The risk of failure!).
I made this with a peanut butter lava centre because the sight of peanut butter and chocolate pouring out of the cake when I cut into it makes me weak at the knees. It’s like all my favourite desserts rolled into one. Also the touch of saltiness from the peanut butter is a contrast to the rich chocolate.
I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that these can be made ahead. The batter can be stored in the refrigerator for a few hours, then just bring it to room temperature and pour it into the moulds. I’ve only made it ahead by a few hours so I’m not sure how it would be if made the day before. But even being able to make ahead a few hours is really handy when you’re entertaining. I have read in other recipes that you can refrigerate it with the batter in the moulds, but I found that the cakes stick a bit more too the mould.
I have to sign off now. There’s a lava cake waiting for me.
Happy cooking! – Nagi
- 7oz / 200g dark chocolate melts (note 1)
- 3.5oz / 100g unsalted butter, chopped
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ cup caster sugar
- 2 tbsp flour
- 5 heaped tsp smooth peanut butter
- Cocoa powder, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 200C/390F.
- Place chocolate and butter in a bowl. Microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring in between. Stir well to combine butter and chocolate and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, generously grease 5 x ¾ cup dariole moulds then dust with cocoa powder. (See notes 2 and 3)
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs (2 x whole eggs + 2 x yolks) and sugar.
- Add the chocolate mixture and mix until combined.
- Add flour and fold through until just combined. Do not over mix.
- Pour batter into dariole moulds until it reaches halfway.
- Drop a heaped teaspoon of peanut butter in the centre of each. Push down gently to mostly submerge.
- Top up with remaining batter until the dariole mould is ¾ filled. Do not overfill! (Note 4)
- Bake for 16 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched gently. (Note 5)
- Turn out onto plate. If you dusted the mould with cocoa powder, it should slip out easily. If it does not, then run a knife around the edge.
- Serve immediately!
2. Dusting the dariole moulds with cocoa powder helps to ensure they come out. I use cocoa powder instead of flour so you can't see it (I used flour once and you could see white specks).
3. This recipe makes enough for 5 x ¾ cup dariole moulds or 4 x 1 cup dariole moulds. Or it makes around 7 using a standard size cupcake/muffin tin.
4. The lava cake will puff up about 30% when it bakes (which always surprises me given that there is no baking powder in the batter). If it puffs up above the rim of the dariole mould then it usually ends up with a sloped surface which means when you turn it out, it doesn't sit straight. The surface also has a tendency to crack (because it is more exposed to the heat).
So as tempting as it is, do not fill the dariole mould more than ¾ of the way up. Same applies if you are using a ramekin or muffin tin.
5. Baking time for 1 cup dariole mould is 18 minutes and in muffin tins they take 14 minutes. But ovens vary so I recommend checking the cake around 1 to 2 minutes before the prescribed cooking times. Touch the top lightly and if it springs back, it is ready.
6. These are best served warm while the "lava" inside is runny. When they cool, the inside turns fudge-like and doesn't become runny again even if you reheat it. They are still delicious, like a really rich fudgey brownie.
7. To make ahead, make the batter and grease and dust the moulds. Refrigerate the batter until required. Bring to room temperature, then pour into moulds and bake as per recipe directions. If you refrigerate the batter in the moulds, I find that the cake tends to stick more, making them harder to invert onto the plate.