A couple years ago, we went on a cruise over Spring Break and Eric (and, okay, I too) became absolutely obsessed with the “Warm Chocolate Melting Cake” that was on the dessert menu. It’s just how it sounds: a warm cake with a gooey chocolate center. We ordered them every night at dinner. Sometimes he’d get two. I tried a different dessert one of the nights, but it didn’t even come close to the Melting Cake. I learned from that mistake. So after the cruise, we searched and searched for the recipe online. With the power of the internet, I discovered message boards where other Melting Cake devotees waxed poetic about their beloved dessert. There were even some postings of the actual cruise ship recipe. Really though, I wasn’t quite crazed enough to scale down the recipe from 600 (?!) servings down to four. And I didn’t even have any ramekins back then anyway, so I ended up forgetting about the whole thing for a while.
Then, a few months later, Eric’s mom pointed out this recipe that she saw Nigella making on TV. It’s not exactly the same, but we’ve come to love it even more than the cruise version. You can make them as gooey inside as you like, although we usually prefer them to be a bit more towards the cakey side, with just a hint of meltiness. At any rate, be sure to test them around the 20-minute mark and adjust the baking time accordingly.
This has become our go-to dessert for most dinner parties. Everyone always loves it — especially with a little scoop (or many scoops) of vanilla ice cream. We have a particular love for Blue Bell’s Homemade Vanilla with this, but I don’t think it’s available too far outside of the South. We especially love their Dutch Chocolate variety. Mm… Dutch Chocolate Bluebell…
Sorry, where was I? On the verge of chocolate overload? No, no… Impossible!
1 stick butter, + 1 T for prepping the ramekins (it calls for unsalted, but then I’ll usually add a pinch of salt in to enhance the flavors anyway)
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, with 60% cocoa solids
3/4 c superfine sugar (regular granulated sugar works well too, really)
3 T AP flour
optional: 1 tsp of vanilla
You will also need 4 ramekins of 6-8 oz. capacity such as these found here. Ramekins are fantastic multitaskers — great for prepping ingredients or holding condiments like salsa. We like these, though, as they stack quite nicely. We’ve got such limited cabinet space, but these ramekins have absolutely earned their own.
On to the good stuff though.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Make sure the rack is at a height where the the ramekins will be squarely in the middle of the oven. They will burn if they are too close to either the top or the bottom. Trust me.
Prep the ramekins with the extra tablespoon of butter. Make sure you grease all the way up the sides of the ramekins; it helps the cakes rise without sticking.
Either in a microwave or in a bowl suspended over a pan over simmering water, melt the chocolate and stick of butter, then set it aside to cool a little. I prefer the microwave method — just be sure to use half power at short intervals so the chocolate won’t scorch.
measuring the flour
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs with the sugar and flour.
checking for sneaky flour or sugar lumps
Combine the sugar mixture and cooled chocolate.
it’s all coming together now
Divide the mixture between the buttered ramekins and arrange them on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. It makes them much easier to handle, so you’re not trying to take the (very) hot ramekins out of the oven individually later.
ready for the oven
Bake for about 20 minutes (or a little longer, if you like them less gooey). The tops will probably crack a little, and that’s OK. It gives you an easy, unnoticeable place to stick a knife in and test the goo factor.
Once they’re done, carefully place each ramekin on a small plate, and warn people that these are hot. Serve with ice cream.
ready for your tastebuds
- If you don’t want to use up all your good and/or expensive chocolate, feel free to use half of whatever good stuff you can find, and half semi-sweet chocolate chips. It’s still just as good.
- This recipe is easily doubled, and could probably be scaled up even further. Leftovers (if there are any) can be kept in the fridge and warmed up in the microwave for a treat later.
- Also, you can make these ahead of time and leave the prepared, filled ramekins in the fridge. An hour or two before dinner, set them out at room temperature, and 20-25 minutes before you think you’ll be ready for dessert, bake them in the preheated oven. Easy!
- Just try it! Even if they’re overbaked on your first go, at least you’re left with a yummy chocolate cake!