Chocolate Lava Cake

About four years ago I was in Key West and visited Michael’s Restaurant.  According to Zagat’s, it’s the #3 restaurant in all of Florida and the #1 in all the Florida Keys. It was a charming place on a side street, very gourmet. I rode my bicycle there, which is the best mode of transportation around the island.  When ordering dinner, the waiter asked if I wanted dessert (Chocolate Lava Cake), as it would take a half hour to prepare it and I needed to decide right then. I said yes, please, since it’s their signature dessert my friends highly recommended it.

Till then I’d never even heard of Chocolate Lava Cake, Volcano Cake, Molten Chocolate Cake or any of the names it’s known as these days as it grows in popularity. It was the best desert I’ve ever eaten and when I arrived home I went on  a quest to find a recipe for it that would replicate the taste and quality of the one from Key West.

After many failed attempts, I finally did find a recipe from a restaurant in Aspen, Colorado. The place is Jimmy’s and if their dessert is representative of the rest of their menu, then I suggest anyone living out west scurry over and check it out. Clink this LINK for that recipe and others. They call it Volcano Cake.

I made Volcano Cake again tonight for this blog to walk you through some of the steps. There are only a few ingredients in the recipe but the preparation is very important.

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees and leave a cookie sheet warming in there  for at least 15 minutes.


  • 12 tsp unsalted butter (a stick and a half)
  • 6 oz Bittersweet or Semisweet Chocolate (I used 1 and 1/2 four oz bars of Ghiradelli 60% cocoa)
  • 3 large egg yolks, and 3 eggs
  • 1/2 sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter together over simmer water.

Set the chocolate aside once melted. Meanwhile, in a bowl combine all the eggs and sugar. Beat on medium high speed for 5 minutes until it’s light and thick and resembles pancake batter.

On low speed, add in the flour and chocolate mixture until blended.

Set out six ramekins and thoroughly grease them. Don’t use cooking spray and don’t skimp on the butter. It needs to be slathered on or else the cakes will stick. “Flour” the ramekins with unsweetened cocoa powder. I used Hershey’s but any good cocoa will do. Fill them 7/8th of the way and place them on the preheated cookie sheet (back in the 350 degree oven) for 15-18 minutes.

This next step is VERY IMPORTANT. If you over or undercook the cakes even by a minute, they won’t come out right so practice and know exactly how long your oven needs before you decide to make these for guests. Tonight, mine cooked for 16 1/2 minutes and they were perfect. They should just begin to pull away from the sides but not all the way.

Unlike some Lava Cake recipes which place a chocolate treat in the middle this one relies solely on the center being cooked less than the outside to give it the drippy center.

Once you remove them from the oven, place them on a cool surface for 3-5 minutes. Next, use a knife to loosen the edge and flip the cake onto a plate. When you cut it open, it should look like this.

Top with vanilla ice cream and serve warm.  As an alternative, I added rum extract (for the whole batch about 1/2 tsp) and it tasted very good. The same amount of peppermint extract would likely taste good too. Try this recipe and let me know how it comes out. If you’re ever in Key West, make sure to check out Michael’s restaurant and thanks to Jimmy’s of Aspen, CO for the amazing recipe.



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Dolls in Horror

by Tracy L. Carbone

I blame some wonderful horror literature and beautifully crafted TV shows and movies for my aversion to porcelain dolls. In my opinion, those dolls are up there with clowns when it comes to innocent things owning the potential for evil.

Despite my fear of them as a “toy,” I have my Audrey, pictured above. She fell several years ago and cracked her face. I didn’t have the heart to throw her away so made her an eye patch. Over the years several people have attempted to throw her away because she’s “creepy.” I disagree, but want nothing to do with all the other dolls like her out there.

I took this picture in NYC at the American Girl Place a few months ago.

I didn’t quite have a panic attack but it was not a fun place to be.  Every second, I was sure they’d start moving, rapping their pretty manicured hands against the glass to escape. Honestly, if they are really harmless, why encase them in a glass cage?

So who propagated this image? Who took pale curly-haired dolls in fancy dresses and made us all start seeing them as devils? Too many to mention, but my favorites follow. These are the ones that frightened me so badly as a child that, except for Audrey, I quiver around dolls.

The first  TV scary doll  memory I have is from an episode of Night Gallery.  It’s called “The Doll.”  It’s part of an episode that contained three short stories back to back. This is the last of the three. I’ve included the whole episode so you’ll have to fast forward. It’s well worth it. One of the classic lines is, “The doll has teeth.” Enough said.

The next one, which I enjoyed watching even as a child but fostered my doll aversion nonetheless, was “The Living Doll” on Twilight Zone. It’s also known as Talky Tina. Click this link to see a great 2 minute minisode. How many of us wish we had a Talky Tina to sic on people? I know I wanted one.

The last two were classic theatrical films, and both I can honestly say I have not seen. I can handle a lot of horror, from haunted houses to exorcisms and everything in between, but because of  Twilight Zone’s and Night Gallery’s evil doll portrayal, I  still haven’t brought myself to watch these.

The trailer for Child’s Play (Chucky) was enough to keep me from the theater. In short time, this evil little boy doll became the poster child for the 1980’s evil playthings.  It’s still pretty easy to find Chucky dolls in Newbury Comics or online.

The second was Magic. Granted, the monster here is a ventriloquist’s dummy and not a porcelain doll, but falls into this category because I’ve never been able to watch more than the trailer on this one. I encourage horror fans to see it, if they haven’t already.  It was made in 1978 and features and all-star cast of Ann Margaret, Anthony Hopkins, Burgess Meredith.

There are dozens of other television shows, movies, and of course short stories and books that transform the innocent to wicked, too many to list. And there will always be horror writers to find the malevolence in the pure, the dark in the light, and to bring us to sinister places where  childhood toys frighten us with delight.

Tracy L. Carbone ,  is the author of The Man of Mystery Hill, published by Echelon Press. Buy Now as an eBook on Kindle . The print version will be released August 15th, 2010, and can be pre-ordered now.

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