Chef Ramsay says making chocolate lava cake is one of the hardest baked goods to make. Cook it too little, it collapses on itself. Cook it too long, it's basically a brownie that is slightly underdone.
Challenge accepted Chef Ramsay.
I've only actually had a lava cake twice... The first time I made it myself, not really knowing what I was making. I remembered it tasted good, but it was before lava cakes were really a thing and everybody I served it to thought I had just an underdone cake. Dramatic effect was nulled by suspicious questions of "are you sure you cooked it enough?" The second time I had lava cake was actually at a local Italian restaurant and it was overdone. I cut into it happily waiting for my rush of "lava" and... Nothing. It was like slicing into a cake. Talk about disappointing!
The cake itself is very easy to make, it's the timing on the baking that's a real trick. My three tips are make sure that you grease the dickens out of the custard cups for the cake and put a ton of sugar in to coat. That makes getting it out so much easier, and it increases the chance that your cake won't fall or get nicked when you're taking it out of the custard cups. Second, watch these in the oven like a hawk. Your window of opportunity on getting this right is so, so, so short. This more than any recipe I've done is relying more on judgement as to if it's done and not a flat cooking time. Third... When the top starts to crack, the center is firm, but it doesn't spring back when lightly touched, and the edges start to pull away from the cup... Then it may be done. Pull it out, run a knife around it, pop it out as gently as possible, and serve it immediately.
I think this is certainly one of the most fun desserts I've served in awhile and it was a huge hit around the house. I loved how dramatic it was cutting it open and its the perfect non-traditional, almost fancy dessert that really makes an impact. And it taste like heaven!
°o° powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 375 and grease custard cups with butter or non-stick spray. Coat with granulated sugar and shake out the excess. Set aside on a baking sheet.
In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter until completely melted, incorporated, and smooth when mixed. Remove from heat for about 10 minutes to allow it to cool slightly.
In a separate bowl, combine eggs and beat using an electric mixer. After eggs are thoroughly beaten and are a lemon color, add sugar. Beat vigorously for several minutes until incorporated and slightly airy, but still thick (like a custard). Drizzle in cooled chocolate mixture and fold until blended entirely. Sift in flour, mix lightly for another minute.
Pour into prepared cups until about 3/4 full. Bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes depending on your container. When the top is set, the sides are beginning to pull away from the dish, but the center does not spring back when touched, cakes are done. Do not overbake.
Run a butter knife around the edge of the cake and dish to loosen, place a plate face down over the dish and flip. If the cake does not come out, hit it slightly to loosen further.
Serve immediately dusted with powdered sugar and served with ice cream, if desired.