C is for Chocolate

Nothing says *love* like a bowl of gooey chocolate. Right? Well ok. Maybe gooey doesn't exactly scream romantic, and I typically roll my eyes at cliché's, especially ones about love and chocolate around Valentine's Day. You see, I don't usually buy into all of the commercialized Valentine's Day "stuff", but I do enjoy spending the day with people I love, celebrating love in general (not just romantic love, but love for family, friends, and life), and I do love chocolate, so the added tradition of whipping up something wonderful and chocolate-y for dessert works out well (like you need an excuse to do that!). So without further ado, let me introduce you to my new true love favorite dessert: 

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Oops, looks like someone was too excited to dig in to snap a photo first!

Luckily, I had some extras set aside to indulge in on Feb. 15, 16, and 17th ... 
Yea, I know, this photo isn't spectacular without the dollop of whipped cream on top. And you have to just imagine the chocolate "lava" inside. Thankfully my sister Kirsten, who shared this wonderful recipe with me, was on her A-game the night she served these lava cakes up to some dinner guests and snapped a before photo that gives the cake justice. (Although I believe Scott, her boyfriend, was the chef behind these beauties?)

And now for the goods ... the recipe!

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Serves 6, Prep Time: 15 minutes, Total Time: 40 minutes

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp, plus more for muffin tins
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for muffin tins
3 large eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon salt
8 ounces melted bittersweet chocolate, melted (we used Baker's Semi-Sweet baking chocolate squares and melted it in the microwave)
Confectioners sugar, for dusting
Whipped cream, for serving (optional) or vanilla ice cream

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Generously butter 6 cups of a standard muffin tin. Dust with granulated sugar, and tap out excess. Set aside. (or we just sprayed 6 little ramekins and left out the sugar dusting since we ate right out of the tins)

2. In a bowl (stand mixer or hand mixer) cream the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low, beat in the flour and salt until just combined (I always cut back on salt). Beat in the chocolate (do not over-mix). Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups.

3. Place the muffin tin (or little ramekins) on a baking sheet; bake just until the tops of the cakes no longer jiggle when the pan is lightly shaken, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven; let stand for 10 minutes.

4. To serve, turn the cakes, and place on serving plates, top sides up. (Or we just ate right out of the ramekins). Dust with confectioners sugar and serve with whipped cream, if desired. Evan likes his lava cakes with vanilla ice cream to tone down the chocolate intensity. I'm not a huge fan of mixing hot and cold together (hurts my teeth!) so I prefer the whipped cream.

See what we were up to last Valentine's Day weekend! Hint: replace a mountain of chocolate with a mountain of snow ...  ; )

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