Sunday, December 11, 2011

Recipe: "Date Night" Chocolate Cakes

Two things led me to these delicious, quick-bake, mini chocolate cakes: 1) The desire to recreate the fantastic little warm, gooey chocolate cake that my friends and I enjoyed on our 2011 spring break cruise (pretty sure I ordered it four nights in a row) and 2) the continual pop-up of Nigella Lawson's "Chocohotopots" recipe online when I'd search for quick-bake chocolate cake recipes (seriously, I think her "chocohotopots" thing is a big deal in the food world because I've seen the recipe everywhere and everyone always raves about how good it is). I worked late last night and all I wanted to do when I got home was curl up on the big, comfy leather couch in the basement and watch a movie on the big screen. I had a major craving for chocolate and thought, "What the hell? Why not try to make those "chocohotopot" things? Who cares if it's 10:30PM and I'm not actually having a date night" I made them, and I'm so glad I did. The original recipe makes 4 servings, and it's a little hard to halve because you have to kind of guess on measurements a bit (which you're really not supposed to do with baked goods), but I halved it anyway, and ended up with two perfectly cooked, warm, chocolate cakes (which meant I got to eat one after lunch today). They have this amazing quality of being both gooey and soft on the inside, and chewy around the edges like a freshly-baked brownie, and they are absolutely amazing with a drizzle of caramel or fresh strawberry slices. I call them "Date Night" chocolate cakes because they're the perfect dessert for two, but you could easily double the recipe (i.e. make the original) and serve them as a regular dessert after dinner. And yes, I realize I did not have my own date night last night, but who cares—they're delicious! :) All together, these cakes take just 30 minutes to make, and they require only a handful of ingredients, so they're perfect when you need a really nice dessert but don't have the time to pull something fancy together, if you're a beginner in the kitchen, or if you just want to curl up with a nice dessert and a good movie.

Serves: 2
Prep. time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Special equipment: Small (about 1 cup size), ovensafe dishes (ceramic ramekins, like the Corningware brand dish pictured above, are perfect)

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, plus about 1 tbsp. to butter the ramekins
  • 2-2.5 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (I highly recommend Ghirardelli brand)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup plus half of a 1/4 cup granulated sugar (fill up a 1/4 cup, then fill it up again only halfway—I know it's not precise, but just watch carefully and you'll be fine)
  • 1 tbsp. of plus 1/2 tbsp. all-purpose flour (do that same thing as above: fill up a tbsp., then fill a tbsp. halfway)
  • Caramel, powdered sugar, or sliced strawberries for garnish, if desired

Place a small baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 400*F. Butter the ramekins (rub a pat of butter around inside the ramekins) with the 1 tbsp. butter. In a microwave, gently melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl (heat in 25-30 second increments, stirring after each time, until the mixture is melted but not burnt). Set aside to cool. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, and flour, then add in the cooled butter and chocolate mixture and mix until thoroughly blended. Divide the mixture between the two buttered ramekins. Bake for approx. 20 minutes, until the tops are slightly cracked and the chocolate cake is moist-looking inside. The ramekins and cake will be very hot, so let them cool slightly, and serve the ramekins on a plate, so you don't burn yourself on them. Garnish with a drizzle of caramel sauce, a dusting of powdered sugar, or some slices of strawberries.


These cakes are so easy and quick to pull together and, for the little amount of effort and ingredients involved, they turn out incredibly well. Using semisweet chocolate makes them rich and decadent, but their small size makes you feel a little less guilty when you dive in. They are the kind of thing you can make any time of day, whether you just want a little cake with your afternoon tea or you want an easy dessert to serve after dinner. They're gooey, chewy, warm, melty, and oh-so-chocolatey and they're quite possibly my new favorite dessert. You can eat them as is or dress them up with fancy garnishes and you can easily double the recipe or quadruple it to serve more people.

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